New Zealand Tuesday passed the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Bill to prohibit anyone born on or after January 1, 2009, from ever purchasing cigarettes. The law will usher in a lifetime ban to prevent future generations from being able to purchase cigarettes and lowers allowable nicotine content in New Zealand products to 0.8 milligrams per gram.
The law also caps the number of retailers who can sell smoked tobacco products at 600 nationwide. There are currently around 6,000 authorized retailers, according to a statement by Associate Health Minister Dr. Ayesha Verrall. The ACT party objected to the bill, citing the impact that reducing tobacco licenses would have on small businesses. However, Dr. Verrall cited a study of 25 retailers who voluntarily withdrew from the tobacco market and experienced a “neutral or positive financial effect.” The party also raised concerns about the possibility that the law will create a black market.
Critics also noted that vaping is not prohibited by this legislation, but data suggests that many New Zealanders have adopted vaping. The number of people who vape daily has grown from 6.2 percent to 8.3 percent in the past year, while the number of people smoking cigarettes has dropped by 1.4 percent in the same amount of time.
Other countries have recently targeted tobacco products. In June, the United States announced plans to regulate the legal nicotine content in nicotine products in 2023, and the United Kingdom released a tentative goal in August to raise the legal smoking age by one year every year.