Legislation to reduce the the sale of tobacco products and regulate the tobacco content of products sold in New Zealand has passed its first Parliamentary reading today.
Associate Health Minister, Ayesha Verrall said the milestone took the nation closer to its goal of becoming free of the devastating harm caused by tobacco.
“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,” said Dr Verrall.
There are three key changes that will be enacted under the 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,” the Minister said.
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 the Government 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,” said Dr Verrall.
“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%.”
Budget 2021 provided $36 million in funding for health promotion programmes.
“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.”
Budget 2022 has pledged a further $5 million over four years to establish a tobacco products regulator and 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 Verrall.