Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Tobacco laws to go up in smoke

The Government has introduced an Amendment Bill to repeal three parts of the previous Government’s planned changes to regulate smoked tobacco.

“The Coalition Government is committed to the Smokefree 2025 goal, but we are taking a different regulatory approach to reducing smoking rates and the harm from smoking,” said Associate Health Minister, Casey Costello. 

“New Zealand has seen some of the largest drops in smoking rates across the world in recent years and we want to build on the practical tools and approaches that have worked to date,” Ms Costello said.

“I will soon be taking a package of measures to cabinet to increase the tools available to help people quit smoking, while at the same time tightening regulations on vaping to prevent young people accessing vapes.”

As a first step, the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Amendment Bill will deliver on the Government’s 100-Day commitments and repeal three parts of the last government’s Smokefree legislation: the retail reduction scheme, denicotinisation, and the smokefree generation measures, the Minister confirmed.

None of these measures are currently in place with Labour’s changes planned for later this year, 2025 and 2027, she said.

“The last government was moving towards an untested regime that ignored how well quit smoking initiatives were working, and the potential downside of taking a prohibitionist approach for smokers, or for retailers and crime.”

The New Zealand Health Survey results released in December last year showed that 6.8% of New Zealanders are smoking daily, down from 8.6% the previous year, and 16.4% in 2011/12 when the survey began. If those trends continue, New Zealand will hit the headline Smokefree goal of less than 5% of the population smoking daily by 2025, said Minister Costello.

“In the last three years, 229,000 people have stopped smoking, with vaping playing a key role. Importantly, 79,000 of those who stopped smoking – more than a third of those who quit – were Māori. The quit rates for young people are even more impressive.”

“The progress New Zealand has made in reducing smoking means that those who currently smoke are mostly long-term smokers who are addicted to nicotine and that’s who we need to focus on. We want an approach that is practical and helps smokers to quit, rather than one based on ideology,” she said.

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