LONDON – Health and tobacco activists said that New Zealand’s plan to repeal legislation that would prohibit tobacco sales to future generations was a threat to lives and international efforts to reduce smoking.
According to the coalition agreement published on Friday, the country’s center-right coalition is scrapping the laws that were introduced by the previous Labour government.
The package would have included a ban on the sale of tobacco to anyone who was born after January 1, 2009. It also reduced the amount nicotine allowed in tobacco products that are smoked and decreased the number of tobacco retailers by more than 90%.
These were some of the most stringent anti-tobacco laws in the world. In Britain, a ban on smoking was proposed for future generations. Other countries are also considering similar rules.
Boyd Swinburn is the co-chairman of Health Coalition Aotearoa, New Zealand.
HCA cited academic research which found that the laws could save $1.3 billion over 20 years in healthcare costs and reduce mortality rates.
The New Zealand Department of the Premier Minister and Cabinet didn’t immediately respond to an email requesting comment after normal business hours.
Sarah Jackson, principal researcher in the University College London Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group said that the decision could affect plans in other countries.
She said that the U-turn made by New Zealand could cause policymakers in England reconsider their position.
Documents show that the coalition government will only tax smoked tobacco products and reform regulations on alternatives such as vapes. This includes a ban of disposable vapes for underage buyers and stiffer penalties for sellers.
Newshub Nation in New Zealand reported that the new Finance Minister, Nicola Willis, said that former measures taken by the government would have reduced tax revenue significantly.
Deborah Arnott of the British health charity ASH said that tobacco taxes are nearly double what they cost to the public purse.