In a bid to get closer to its goal of being smoke-free by 2025, New Zealand has made a set of proposals aimed at outlawing smoking for the next generation.
According to proposals, there could be a gradual increase of the legal smoking age, which can be extended to ban the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products to anyone born after 2004 and hence pushing for announcing smoking effectively illegal for that generation.
It is also under consideration to significantly reduce the level of nicotine allowed in tobacco products. The other consideration in the proposals include prohibiting filters, setting a minimum price for tobacco, and putting restrictions on the locations where tobacco and cigarettes can be sold, the Guardian reported.
While announcing the new changes, New Zealand’s Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall said that the country needs a “new approach.”
“About 4,500 New Zealanders die every year from tobacco, and we need to make accelerated progress to be able to reach that goal [of Smokefree 2025]. Business-as-usual without a tobacco control program won’t get us there,” she said.
While a section of people associated with public health organizations welcomed the proposal, many politicians also criticized the same. The move has also sparked debate on the extent to which the government should intervene in people’s lives.
El-Shadan Tautolo, a professor of public health at Auckland University of Technology, called the plan “a turning point” if the proposals included enough resources and the right people.
Cancer Society chief executive Lucy Elwood in a statement said this proposal goes “beyond assisting people to quit” and added, “Tobacco is the most harmful consumer product in history and needs to be phased out.”
The lowering of nicotine content could result in smokers buying and smoking more to get their hit, said Right-wing political party ACT while opposing the proposals.
A discussion also started on Reddit where people reasoned that banning smoking or making it illegal is not a solution and might lead to black market operations.
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