Young People in NZ Will Never Reach Legal Smoking Age

New law will ban future generations from buying cigarettes
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 9, 2021 8:20 AM CST
NZ Law Will Ban Future Generations From Smoking
A sign indicates that the University of Auckland campus is smoke-free in Auckland, New Zealand, Thursday, Dec. 9, 2021.   (AP Photo/David Rowland)

People who are 12 years old or younger in New Zealand today will never reach an age where they will be legally allowed to smoke cigarettes, the government says. A new law expected to be introduced next year will ban smoking for future generations, with the legal smoking age increasing every year, the Guardian reports. Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall said Thursday that while details of the plan are still being worked out, the ban is likely to start with people who will be 14 in 2023, the year the law is expected to kick in, reports

Verrall said smoking rates are higher among older teens, but studies have found under 1% of 14-year-olds smoke tobacco. "That's where we see the opportunity to really make the future difference for that generation," she said. Other measures in the New Zealand government's Smokefree 2025 action include reducing the amount of nicotine in tobacco products to very low levels and cutting the number of outlets where cigarettes are sold from 8,000 down to around 500, the BBC reports. The law, which also boosts funding for addiction services, will not apply to vaping products, though Verrall said efforts to persuade young people not to vape will be stepped up.

New Zealand aims to get the smoking rate down to 5% by 2025 and eventually eradicate smoking. The current smoking rate is around 13%, but it is close to 30% among the Maori population, which also has much higher rates of smoking-related illness and death, per the BBC. "We're going to have on-the-ground support for individuals as well as mobilizing the community," Verrall said. "Ultimately, they'll wind up with a lot more money in their pocket." (More smoking stories.)

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