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New Zealand to Ban Cigarette Sales For Entire Generation

A new action plan would raise the legal smoking age by a year from 2027 onwards.

In one of the world's toughest anti-smoking plans to date, New Zealand moved Thursday to ban children under 14 from buying cigarettes for the rest of their lives.

As part of the country's campaign to go entirely smoke-free by 2025, New Zealand's Health Ministry announced its plan to phase out legal smoking entirely. 

From 2027 onwards, the legal smoking age of 18 would be lifted a year so that those born after 2008 will never fall within the legal age for buying cigarettes.

"We must move swiftly and strategically to address these marked inequities and the disastrous impacts of smoked tobacco products so tamariki, rangatahi and our future generations are protected from harm," Population Health and Prevention Group Manager Jane Chambers said, using the Maori words for young people.

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This action plan includes other measures to curb smoking, such as restricting the number of retailers permitted to sell cigarettes and placing limits on the amount of nicotine permitted in cigarettes. 

The proposal will be presented as a bill in mid-2022 and needs to be voted in by Parliament. If passed, it would be unprecedented, as cigarettes are not presently outlawed in any other English-speaking country.

"We want to make sure young people never start smoking so we will make it an offence to sell or supply smoked tobacco products to new cohorts of youth," New Zealand Associate Minister of Health Ayesha Verrall said in a press statement.

Publicly-traded cigarette producers such as Altria (MO) Philip Morris International (PM) and British American Tobacco (BTI) were largely unmoved by the news — they are currently down a respective 0.40% to $44.34, 0.022% to $89.89, and 0.13% to $35.53.