New Zealand’s incoming conservative government has scrapped a world-leading smoking ban, citing fears of a flourishing black market.
The ban, which was unveiled under former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, aimed to prohibit the sale of cigarettes to anyone born after 2008. It was praised by public health experts and anti-smoking advocates, and a suite of near-identical measures were recently announced in the United Kingdom.
However, new Prime Minister Christopher Luxon confirmed on Monday that the laws would be scrapped before they came into effect. He said that the ban would create “an opportunity for a black market to emerge, which would be largely untaxed.”
Anti-smoking group Health Coalition Aotearoa said the policy backdown was an insult to the country. “This is a major loss for public health, and a huge win for the tobacco industry, whose profits will be boosted at the expense of Kiwi lives,” the group said in a statement.
The legislation, which was scheduled to start later this year, was designed to almost immediately reduce the number of people using tobacco products. While the number of adults smoking in New Zealand is already relatively low at just eight percent, the previous government had envisioned a future where the country was completely smoke-free.
As well as the steadily increasing age limit, the new law would have slashed the number of retailers able to sell tobacco products to a maximum of just 600 nationwide, a massive drop from the current figure of 6,000.
Also Read: AMOS Malware Now Breaching Mac Security