The government of New Zealand is working hard to ensure that it will soon be legally impossible for Kiwis to purchase and use tobacco products.
Across the world, the use of tobacco is linked to millions of illnesses and deaths every year. While many countries have taken steps to curb peoples' dangerous habits, only Bhutan has gone so far as to ban tobacco outright. If all goes as planned, New Zealand will soon be joining them.
The New Zealand Ministry of Health announced on Thursday the launch of their "Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Action Plan." Aotearoa is the country's Maori name, and its use hints at a major goal of the plan. As the NZMH states, rates of smoking are much higher amongst the native population, thus special attention is being paid to first eliminate "inequities in smoking rates and smoking-related illnesses."
The eventual goal of the multi-million dollar program is not only to make the sale of tobacco to the next generation illegal, but to make smoking itself undesirable. An official release from the NZ government states that, "People aged 14 when the law comes into effect will never be able to legally purchase tobacco." They also reveal that beginning soon, "only smoked tobacco products containing very low-levels of nicotine can be sold, with a significant reduction in the number of shops who can sell them."
A large amount of resources are being allocated to helping current smokers quit, as well.
While many have lauded the program, others have decried it as yet another example of the NZ government's implementation of a "nanny state." The truth of the matter, however, is that tobacco use remains number one cause of preventable death in New Zealand, and something needs to be done about it.
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