Sydney, Australia, Dec 13 (EFE).- New Zealand legislators approved a bill on Tuesday that would gradually eliminate tobacco sales beginning in 2027, making it the second country to do so after Bhutan.
The new law states that those born on or after January 1, 2009, will never be able to legally buy tobacco in New Zealand.
The law, championed by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s Labor Party, passed with 76 votes in favor and 43 against.
“This legislation accelerates progress towards a smoke-free future,” said Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall.
She said the law would lower the nicotine content of smoked tobacco products.
“Thousands of people will live longer and healthier lives, and the health system will be NZ$5 billion (about $3 billion) better off from not needing to treat the illnesses caused by smoking, such as numerous types of cancer, heart attacks, strokes, and amputations.”
The new law reduces the number of tobacco-selling retailers from 6,000 to 600.
“This legislation mandates a maximum of 600 tobacco retailers by the end of next year,” said Verral.
She said many retailers around the country had already opted to stop selling tobacco.
Referring to a study, the health minister said the survey of 25 retailers that stopped selling tobacco showed 88 percent experienced either “a neutral or positive financial impact.”
In New Zealand, according to surveys, just 8 percent of adults smoke daily, compared with 9.4 percent in 2021 and 16 percent a decade ago.
According to 2019 OECD data, 28 percent of adults smoke regularly in Turkey, compared to 24.5 percent in Chile, 21.5 percent in China, 19.8 percent in Spain, 13 percent in Finland, 10.9 percent in the United States, nine percent in Norway, and 4.2 percent in Costa Rica.
In the last 10 years, New Zealand has raised tobacco taxes by up to 165 percent, and a pack of cigarettes now costs at least NZ$30 (about $19).
The main opposition parties voted against the law.
Some critics of the law predict that the ban will increase tobacco smuggling in the country.
Malaysia has also begun debating a bill to ban tobacco sales to those born on or after January 1, 2007. EFE