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Government to ban tobacco sales to young people for their lifetime

Date Added: December 09, 2021 08:25:23 AM
Author: Sutra Web Directory
Category: Regional: New Zealand
The Government will ban young people from ever being able to purchase tobacco in their lives under world-leading plans to make New Zealand smokefree.

Older generations will only be able to buy tobacco products with very low levels of nicotine, and fewer shops will be able to sell tobacco products, Associate Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall announced as part of the new Smokefree 2025 action plan at Parliament on Thursday.

“We want to make sure young people never start smoking, so we will make it an offence to sell or supply smoke tobacco products to new cohorts of young people,” she said. “People aged 14 when the law comes into effect will never be able to legally purchase tobacco.”

More is needed to be done to stop young people from taking up smoking in the first place and to make it less addictive and appealing, she said.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in New Zealand and causes one in four cancers.

“While smoking rates are heading in the right direction, we need to do more, faster, to reach our goal,” Verrall said.

“If nothing changes, it would be decades before Māori smoking rates fall below 5 per cent and this Government is not prepared to leave anyone behind.”

There will be an estimated $5 billion in savings on future health expenditure as a result of the plans, she said.

Some decisions in the plan are non-legislative, such as practical support measures for smokers, but others will require amendments to existing legislation that is expected to be passed next year.

This includes moves to ensure smoked tobacco products will only be sold by authorised retailers, that only smoked tobacco products with very low nicotine levels will be allowed for manufacture, importation, distribution and sale, and plans to restrict design measures aimed to enhance the appeal and addictiveness of smoked products.

As many as 8000 retailers sell tobacco now, but this will be cut down to about 500 under the new rules – meaning 7500 will have to transition to a new business model, she said.

Dairy owners facing loss of income after losing tobacco sales won’t be compensated, she added.

Legislators will also “think very carefully” about how the laws will be enforced to stop an illicit tobacco market forming.

“We will need to enforce it, and we will need to resource enforcement at the border and in the community.”

The Government will also set up a Māori advisory taskforce, chaired by Dame Tariana Turia, to focus on achieving better outcomes for Māori and to hold the Ministry of Health, the Government and the tobacco control sector to account over the plan.

A Pacific advisory group will also be established in the new year.

Health leaders welcomed the announcement.

New Zealand Medical Association chairman Dr Alistair Humphrey said ​the policy would be a “defining moment” for respiratory health.

“Cigarette smoking kills 14 New Zealanders every day, and two out of three smokers will die as a result of smoking. We believe that this action plan offers some hope of realising our 2025 Smokefree Aotearoa goal, and keeping our tamariki smokefree,” he said.

Health Coalition Aotearoa smokefree expert advisory group chairwoman Sally Liggins said ​the Government’s response showed courage and was an “unprecedented win” for the health of New Zealanders.

"Once these measures are implemented, cigarettes will no longer be addictive and will reduce the number of young people who start smoking," she said.

Collin Tukuitonga, an associate dean Pacific of the faculty of medical and health sciences at the University of Auckland, said ​the Government should be commended on the new measures, while preventative actions should be focused on Māori and Pacific communities.

“It is important that a focus on these efforts should be in neighbourhoods where Māori and Pacific people live. Experience with the Covid-19 vaccination roll-out has reminded us of the importance and impact of community-led events,” he said.

~ Via Stuff