Wednesday, May 29, 2024

History-making smoking Bill ignited

Associate Health Minister, Ayesha Verrall says today will go down in history as the day the Government guaranteed a healthier, smokefree future for the next generation of New Zealanders.

The Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Smoked Tobacco) Amendment Bill, which will create an entire smokefree generation and will save thousands of lives, has passed into law.

“This legislation accelerates progress towards a smokefree future,” Dr Verrall said. 

“Thousands of people will live longer, healthier lives and the health system will be $5billion better off from not needing to treat the illnesses caused by smoking, such as numerous types of cancer, heart attacks, strokes, amputations.

“The three main changes are reducing the amount of nicotine that is allowed in smoked tobacco products, decreasing the numbers of retailers that sell tobacco and making sure tobacco isn’t sold at all to anyone born on or after 1 January 2009.”

The Minister said it means nicotine will be reduced to non-addictive levels and communities will be free from the proliferation and clustering of retailers who target and sell tobacco products in certain areas. 

“The number of retailers around the country that can sell tobacco will be reduced to a tenth of the 6,000 there are now. This legislation mandates a maximum of 600 tobacco retailers by the end of next year,” she said.

“Many retailers around the country have already opted to stop selling tobacco. Ngā Tai Ora Public Health Unit in Northland did a survey looking at 25 retailers who made the choice to end the sale of tobacco, of which 88% experienced either a neutral or positive financial impact.”

New Zealand’s daily smoking rate for adults is 8% – down from 9.4% a year ago and half the rate compared to 10 years ago. The number of people smoking fell by 56,000 over the past year.

“These measures are important for equitable health for Māori. They will close the life expectancy gap for Māori women by 25% and by 10% for Māori men,” said Minister Verrall.

“We’ve done well as a country to get to this point, but there is more to do. That’s why the legislation passed today is so important, it puts us firmly on the path to Smokefree 2025.

“The Government is firmly committed to protecting the health and wellbeing of those living in Aotearoa and this legislation is evidence of that commitment.

“We launched the Smokefree 2025 Action Plan in December last year. A year on, members of the house who voted for this life saving legislation can be proud they took a stand for the good of our health system and the good of the health of our people,” she said.

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