New Zealand will now reverse a “world first” generational smoking ban that would have prevented the sale of tobacco to anyone born after 2009.
The new tri-party coalition government will repeal legislation introduced by the Ardern Labour government that banned smoking for the youngest generation of Kiwis.
Now, as part of the National Party’s agreement with the nationalist NZ First, the amendments will be repeated by March 2024, including the generational ban and a cut in the number of retail outlets allowed to sell tobacco products.
Given those born in 2009 are now only 14, the ban would have a practical impact by 2027.
Black Market ConcernsSpeaking on RNZ, Prime Minister Christopher Luxon said his government would work to lower smoking rates in the country.
“We are going to continue to lower smoking rates, exactly as we’ve seen over the last 30 years.”
Mr. Luxon noted the previous government’s legislation would have created a bigger black market for cigarette sales.
“To say you can concentrate all that distribution in a few shops and you have one smoke shop in one small town in New Zealand, you can’t not tell me that will be a massive target for ramraids and crime—there will be an increased black market, an untaxed black market, for cigarette smokes,” Mr. Luxon said.
“How does it ultimately get enforced, a 36-year-old can smoke but a 35-year-old can’t smoke down the road, that sort of doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
“They can’t have it both ways—they’ve confessed they are funding tax cuts through repealing smoke-free laws. They'll only get the revenue they need if more people smoke,” she said.
Mr. Luxon, 53, received the majority of votes at the national election on Oct. 14, which resulted in Chris Hipkins, the Labour leader, losing office.
Following weeks of negotiations, he announced a coalition agreement with the libertarian ACT, and the Winston Peters-led NZ First on Nov. 24.
Mr. Luxon held his first meeting of the new New Zealand cabinet on Nov. 28, after being sworn in as prime minister on Nov. 27 with his family.