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New Zealand imposes lifetime ban on youth buying cigarettes

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The law states tobacco can’t ever be sold to anybody born on or after Jan. 1, 2009, although it means the minimum age will keep going up and up. The goal is to make New Zealand smoke-free by 2025.

New Zealand on Tuesday passed into law a unique plan to phase out tobacco smoking by imposing a lifetime ban on young people buying cigarettes.

The law states that tobacco can’t ever be sold to anybody born on or after Jan. 1, 2009.

It means the minimum age for buying cigarettes will keep going up and up. In theory, somebody trying to buy a pack of cigarettes 50 years from now would need ID to show they were at least 63 years old.

But health authorities hope smoking will fade away well before then. They have a stated goal of making New Zealand smoke-free by 2025.

The new law also reduces the number of retailers allowed to sell tobacco from about 6,000 to 600 and decreases the amount of nicotine allowed in tobacco that is smoked.

“There is no good reason to allow a product to be sold that kills half the people that use it,” Associate Minister of Health Dr. Ayesha Verrall told lawmakers in Parliament. “And I can tell you that we will end this in the future, as we pass this legislation.”

She said the health system would save billions of dollars from not needing to treat illnesses caused by smoking, such as cancer, heart attacks, strokes, and amputations. She said the bill would create generational change and leave a legacy of better health for youth.