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Born After 2004? New Zealand May Never Let You Smoke

Nation considering various proposals as it aims to be smoke-free by 2025
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 16, 2021 11:50 AM CDT

(Newser) – New Zealand has proposed several plans as part of a goal to be smoke-free by 2025, including a permanent ban on sales of any tobacco products to anyone born after 2004, reports the Guardian. Cigarettes are already heavily taxed in the country. But "we need a new approach," Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall said Thursday in revealing the proposals, noting that "about 4,500 New Zealanders die every year from tobacco." Verrall said the "most extreme" proposal toward a smoke-free generation is one that would ban the sale of tobacco products to anyone born after 2004 beginning in 2022. That ban would be permanent—meaning a person born after 2004 couldn’t buy tobacco products even after reaching adulthood.

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Verrall also said the government—which is seeking input from the public—could instead choose to raise the legal age for purchasing and using tobacco to 20 or 25, "where taking up smoking is much less likely," per Stuff. Other proposed rules would see limits on the amount of nicotine allowed in products, a mandatory minimum price, and a ban on cigarette filters. The hope is this will encourage people to abandon the habit, which accounts for one in four cancer deaths in New Zealand. But even smokers who support some of the proposals tell Stuff that the goal of a smoke-free nation by 2025 is unrealistic. Some say it will only expand the black market for tobacco. Others worry about the effect on small retailers. As for the proposed ban on filters, "it's not going to make any difference," says one smoker. "Does the needle bother the heroine junky?" (Read more New Zealand stories.)

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