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.
The laws were due to be implemented from July 2024. But as part of its coalition agreement with populist New Zealand First, National agreed to repeal the amendments, including “removing requirements for de-nicotisation, removing the reduction in retail outlets and the generation ban”.
While the number of adults smoking in New Zealand is already relatively low at just eight percent, the previous government had envisioned a future where the country was completely smoke-free.
The New Zealand tobacco industry makes a significant contribution to the New Zealand economy in terms of government revenue, retail sales and employment.
Tobacco products make their largest financial contribution to the New Zealand economy in the form of excise taxation with the tobacco industry in New Zealand paying over NZ$2 billion in total taxes each year.
Public health modelling conducted in 2022 had shown the Smokefree policy would have saved New Zealand’s health system about NZ$1.3bn (£630m; $790m) over the next 20 years.
New Zealand’s laws also have inspired the Rishi Sunak-led UK government in September to announce a similar smoking ban for young people.