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Source: New Zealand Government

Our goal of becoming free of the devastating harm caused by tobacco has today moved a step closer as the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Smoked Tobacco) Amendment Bill passed its first reading.

“We have more regulations in this country on the safety of a sandwich than a cigarette, this Bill is about taking urgent action needed to stop the leading cause of preventable death in Aotearoa,” Associate Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall said today.

There are three key changes that will be enacted under this legislation including: cutting the number of retail outlets able to sell tobacco, reducing the amount of nicotine in allowed in smoked tobacco products and making sure tobacco can’t be sold to anyone born on or after 1 January 2009.

“People living in areas where tobacco is readily available are at greatest risk of relapse. Currently there are more smoked tobacco retailers clustered in low-income communities, reducing the number of sellers will help end the deadly toll that tobacco has on poor communities.

“This Bill will limit the number of businesses allowed to sell smoked tobacco products and limit the number of retail premises to be set in a certain area.

“Secondly it will prevent young people and successive generations from ever taking up smoking. This legislation will mean it will be illegal to sell smoked tobacco products to anyone born on or after 1 January 2009.

“Thirdly the Bill introduces measures which will allow us to reduce the nicotine levels in smoked tobacco products, reducing their appeal and addictiveness.”

“For decades we have permitted tobacco companies to maintain their market share by making their deadly product more and more addictive.

“We must end the harm caused by smoking particularly for Māori. Overall smoking rates are heading in the right direction however without this bill it will be decades before Māori smoking rates fall below 5 per cent.

Last year in Budget 2021 we provided $36 million in funding for health promotion programmes, scaling up stop smoking services and for Pacific health providers so they can tailor support for Pacific communities.

“We also set aside $28 million to support a tobacco regulator to carry out its functions and to ensure compliance with Smokefree regulations and another $10.3 million will go towards cracking down on tobacco smuggling into New Zealand.

In support we have invested heavily in public health compliance and enforcement capabilities with additional Budget 2022 funding of $5 million over four years to establish a tobacco products regulator and to support the implementation of the Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Action Plan.

“We’ve made sure to have additional support in place for people wanting to quit smoking by increasing the funding and availability of support services. Additionally a new quit campaign will roll out later this year and this Bill will act as the final push toward a smokefree future,” said Dr Ayesha Verrall