New Zealand Government Reverses World's First Tobacco Ban Bill

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New Zealand Government Reverses World's First Tobacco Ban Bill
New Zealand government to revoke groundbreaking tobacco sales ban, sparking concerns over public health risks and disparities among communities.

According to Reuters on February 27th, the New Zealand government announced that they will soon be repealing the world's first legislation that banned the sale of tobacco to future generations (commonly known as the "Smokefree Generation" bill), despite warnings from researchers and activists that this could increase the risk of people dying as a result.


The law was originally scheduled to take effect in July and is considered the strictest anti-tobacco regulation globally. The law will prohibit the sale of tobacco products to those born after January 1, 2009, reduce the nicotine content in smoking products, and decrease the number of tobacco retailers by over 90%.


The new coalition government in New Zealand has confirmed that it will urgently repeal this law on Tuesday, without seeking public input.


New Zealand's Associate Health Minister Casey Costello has stated that the coalition government is committed to reducing the number of smokers, but will take a different regulatory approach to curb smoking and reduce its harm. She said, "I will soon propose a set of measures to the Cabinet to increase means to help people quit smoking." Costello also mentioned that regulations on e-cigarettes will be tightened to prevent young people from smoking.


This decision has received severe criticism and may have significant implications for the health outcomes in New Zealand. There are concerns that it could have a greater impact on Māori and Pasifika populations (who are frequent smokers).


Researcher Janet Hoek from the University of Otago said that the decision to repeal this ignores strong research evidence, overlooks measures strongly supported by Māori leaders, and will perpetuate health inequalities.


Large-scale clinical trials and modeling studies have shown that legislation can rapidly increase the smoking cessation rate and make it more difficult for young people to start smoking. Hawk is co-director of a group studying methods to reduce smoking.


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