Currently, regulations in force prohibit New Zealanders under the age of 18 from purchasing tobacco and from 2027 this age limit will increase by one year each year, Health Minister Ayesha Verrall said.
We want to make sure people never start smoking … as they age, they and future generations will never be able to legally buy tobacco, she said.
The minister specified that the government will adopt a law also aimed at restricting the number of places that can sell tobacco and only authorize products containing a low level of nicotine, in order to reduce the risk of addiction.
Ms Verrall stressed that these measures will allow New Zealand to maintain its role as a world leader in tobacco control.
In 1990, the archipelago banned the tobacco industry from sponsoring the sports sector and in 2004 from smoking in bars.
It is a historic day for the health of our population , she estimated.
A heavy toll
Smoking, the cause of one in four cancers, remains the leading cause of preventable death in New Zealand.
The minister stressed that the health toll was particularly heavy in the Maori and Pacific communities, where the smoking rate is about twice as high as the 13.5% recorded among the rest of the population.
The government wants to reduce this percentage to 5% by 2025 and according to it, this achievable goal would save the health system 5.5 NZ $ (approximately 4.7 billion Canadian dollars) in expenses.
The pressure group Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) welcomed the announcements.
This set of complementary measures will be envied by countries fighting against death and misery caused by smoked tobacco.ASH President Robert Beaglehole said.
We will be at the forefront of tobacco control around the world, he stressed.
The tobacco manufacturer British American Tobacco New Zealand, for its part, considered that these measures were
untested, unfounded and without any scientific proof of their effectiveness.
The consequences are in fact a progressive ban, which only pushes to sell [de tabac] on the black market, he said in a statement.