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New Zealand To Reverse Smoking Ban To Fund Tax Cuts

The country still aims to reduce its national smoking rate to 5% by 2025.

New Zealand’s new government says it plans to scrap the nation’s world-leading smoking ban to fund tax cuts.

The legislation, introduced under the previous Jacinda Ardern-led government, would have banned cigarette sales next year to anyone born after 2008.

Smoking is the leading cause of preventable deaths in New Zealand, and the policy had aimed to stop young generations from picking up the habit.

Health experts have strongly criticised the sudden reversal.

A tobacco control researcher and public health expert at the University of Otago, Richard Edwards said “We are appalled and disgusted. this is an incredibly retrograde step on world-leading, absolutely excellent health measures.

“Most health groups in New Zealand are appalled by what the government’s done and are calling on them to backtrack,”

The legislation passed last year had been acclaimed internationally with research models backing the key reforms.

Measures included restricting the number of tobacco retailers, and reducing the level of nicotine in cigarettes.

Modelling had suggested the Smokefree laws could save up to 5,000 lives each year.

New Zealand’s laws were believed to have inspired the UK government in September to announce a similar smoking ban for young people. A spokeswoman said Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s position remained unchanged after New Zealand’s reversal.

While it has been praised as a public health policy, the Smokefree measures drew opposition from some business groups in New Zealand.

Owners of newsagents and corner shops criticised the loss of revenue, even with government subsidies.

New Zealand still aims to reduce its national smoking rate to 5% by 2025, with the aim of eventually eliminating it altogether.

According to national data, more than 80,000 adults have quit smoking in the past year.

Chioma Kalu

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