New Zealand Government Reverses Groundbreaking Anti-Smoking Legislation for Economic Reasons

Regulations by
New Zealand Government Reverses Groundbreaking Anti-Smoking Legislation for Economic Reasons
New Zealand's landmark smoking ban law, aimed at achieving a "smoke-free generation," has been repealed by the new government.

According to a report by Hipertextual, former New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced a groundbreaking tobacco control law in 2021, with the aim of achieving a "smoke-free generation" and saving thousands of lives. The law received widespread support from health legislators around the world, with several countries announcing plans to follow suit. However, the new government in New Zealand repealed the law before it could be enacted, and openly admitted that the decision was driven by economic interests.


New Zealand's smoking ban bill aims to achieve its goals by gradually increasing the legal smoking age. Currently, in New Zealand and many other countries, the legal age for smoking is 18. The initial plan is to raise the age to 19 by 2026, followed by an annual increase of one year thereafter. Eventually, teenagers will no longer be permitted to smoke. Despite potentially appearing strict, this regulation is expected to save millions of lives and cost millions of dollars in healthcare expenses.


However, in the election, the newly elected government in New Zealand has promised to implement a historic tax reduction, which requires a complete overhaul. Given that the tobacco industry brings in a significant amount of revenue for the government, the newly elected right-wing coalition government wasted no time in making this decision.


Newly-appointed Minister of Finance, Nicola Willis, has announced the repeal of the smoking ban bill. This decision, driven by economic factors, did not originate from the Health Ministry. The tobacco industry contributes approximately $2 billion in tax revenue to the New Zealand government annually, making it an effective avenue for offsetting tax deductions.


A recent study suggests that Ardern's smoking ban bill could save $1.3 billion in healthcare costs over the next 20 years. However, this does not offset the profits from tobacco sales, thus making it an insufficiently compelling reason for the new government.


Furthermore, the World Health Organization (WHO) stated in its tobacco report that approximately 8 million people die each year globally due to smoking-related causes. Out of this number, 7 million people die directly from smoking, while the remaining 1 million are second-hand smoke inhalers. These individuals do not willingly smoke, yet they tragically lose their lives due to exposure to cigarette smoke.


Achieving a smoke-free generation is just one of the many proposed measures by the World Health Organization to prevent health issues caused by tobacco. Other measures include conducting health promotion campaigns to assist people in quitting smoking, issuing graphic health warnings, increasing taxes on tobacco companies, and regulating nicotine-containing products such as e-cigarettes.


At the beginning of this year, the Director-General of the organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, stated that only four countries in the world have implemented a comprehensive set of measures following most of the organization's recommendations. These countries include Brazil, Mauritius, Turkey, and the Netherlands. Among the member states of the European Union, only the Netherlands has achieved this feat. However, data shows that approximately 18.4% of the population aged 15 and above reported being daily smokers in 2019. The highest smoking rate was recorded in Bulgaria at 28.7%, while Sweden had the lowest at 6.4%.


Fortunately, several countries, such as Portugal, have started implementing the smoking ban law repealed by New Zealand and have also set goals to achieve a smoke-free generation.


This article is translated from an original Chinese article available on by AI, and has been reviewed and edited by 2FIRSTS's English editorial team. The Chinese original text is the only authoritative source of information. The exclusive copyright and license rights to this article are held by 2FIRSTS Technology Co., Ltd. Any reproduction, reprinting, or redistribution of this article, either in part or in full, requires express written permission from 2FIRSTS and must include clear attribution along with a link to this content. Non-compliance may result in legal action. 2FIRSTS Technology Co., Ltd. reserves the right to pursue legal actions in case of unauthorized use or distribution.