despite a setback in New Zealand, the fight against youth smoking continues

In New Zealand, the new conservative government confirmed on Monday its intention to abandon a pioneering measure adopted to combat smoking, which introduced a “generational smoking ban” for people born after 2008.


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The reflection also concerns vaping, which has tripled among young people over the last three years.  (FRED TANNEAU / AFP)

In 2022, former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had Parliament vote on a “generational smoking ban”, banning the sale of cigarettes to anyone born after 2008. This law therefore moved, for the first time in the world, towards a ban total cigarette sales. The measure was welcomed by health experts and anti-tobacco advocates. But the law will not be applied, because that was without counting on the defeat, a month ago, of the left in power and the return to business of a more traditional right.

Black market and tax revenue

Coming from a conservative political group, the National Party, Christopher Luxon’s victory ended the Labor Party’s six years in power. Thus, barely seated in the Prime Minister’s chair, Monday November 27, he confirmed that New Zealand would repeal the laws before they come into force, citing fears of a vast black market in tobacco sales .

The new prime minister admitted that tax revenues from ongoing cigarette sales would generate welcome revenue for the government, but he stressed that this was not “no motivation to do it”. If the law had been implemented, it would also have drastically reduced the number of businesses authorized to sell tobacco, to a maximum of 600 nationwide.

In England, raising the legal age every year

But if New Zealand backs down, England wants to gradually become a tobacco-free country. The English approach is similar to that which New Zealand wanted to apply. The idea is to increase the legal smoking age by one year each year. This would mean that a 14-year-old would never be allowed to smoke in his entire life in England.

Currently, the legal age to buy cigarettes in the UK is 18 and four in five smokers started before they were twenty. Hence Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s idea to prevent teenagers from starting to smoke.

Fight against new trends

The reflection also concerns vaping, which has tripled among young people over the last three years. Likewise, in Denmark, the government intends to take measures against a trend which sees young people buying nicotine sachets to suck. The idea is to hit the wallet, by increasing taxes and making these sucking packets as expensive as cigarettes. It will also be prohibited to offer “seductive” flavors and perfumes in tobacco substitute products. This reflection on tobacco is linked to measures on alcohol, the other scourge which seriously concerns young Danes.

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