Governments around the world have passed regulations in an attempt to curb cigarette sales. Some laws are designed to ban the addictive products altogether, like new legislation being proposed for 2022 in New Zealand. As CNN reports, the proposed law would increase the legal smoking age every year, effectively outlawing them for the next generation.
The New Zealand government unveiled the proposal on December 9, with plans to introduce it to Parliament in 2022. Instead of making cigarettes illegal for the entire nation overnight, the legislation would "make it an offense to sell or supply smoked tobacco products to new cohorts of youth," according to a statement from Dr. Ayesha Verrall, New Zealand's associate minister of health.
Starting in 2027, the legal age for tobacco use—currently 18—would be raised progressively under the proposed law, so residents who turn 14 in 2023 (and those who are younger) will always be under the legal age limit, meaning they'll be banned from buying cigarettes for their entire lives. By focusing on future generations, the government hopes to prevent tobacco addiction before it starts.
In New Zealand, the proportion of who identified as smokers dropped from 18.2 percent to 13.4 over the last decade. Despite the encouraging trend, health officials say the numbers aren't dropping fast enough. Smoking is still linked to 4000 to 5000 deaths in the country each year. The new legislation is part of the government's campaign to reduce the percentage of daily smokers to 5 percent or less by 2025.
If passed, the law will enforce some of the strictest tobacco regulations in the world, but the concept isn't totally unprecedented. In 2019, Hawaii tried passing a law that would have increase the legal smoking age to 100 by 2024. That legislation didn't survive, and we won't know the fate of New Zealand's proposal until next year.