To help pay for tax cuts, the incoming government of incoming Zealand plans to repeal the nation’s world-class smoking ban, which public health experts predict will result in thousands of deaths and be “catastrophic” for Māori communities.
The nation enacted groundbreaking laws in 2022 that raised the smoking age gradually and prevented anyone born after January 2009 from ever being able to purchase cigarettes lawfully. The goal of the law was to save the health system billions of dollars while averting thousands of smoking-related fatalities.
Numerous more measures to reduce smoking’s affordability and accessibility were included in the legislation.
The permissible nicotine content of tobacco products was drastically lowered, their sale was restricted to designated tobacco shops, and the number of establishments that could lawfully sell cigarettes was cut from 6,000 to barely 600 across the country.
The legislation was scheduled to go into effect in July 2024. However, National pledged to undo the changes as part of its coalition deal with the far-right New Zealand First, including “removing requirements for de-nicotization, removing the reduction in retail outlets and the generation ban.”
The coalition’s tax cuts will be funded by the proceeds from the sale of cigarettes, which will terminate the measures before March 2024.
According to Luxon, his administration will keep implementing smoking-related legislation and initiatives to reduce the number of smokers.
According to Hāpai te Hauora, a prominent Māori public health agency, the reversal will be “catastrophic for Māori communities.”
Source: The Guardian