Wednesday 22 November 2017

New Zealand aims to be smoke free by 2025

Bonnie Malkin

New Zealand has unveiled an ambitious plan to make the country smoke-free by 2025.

A parliamentary report into the tobacco industry recommended severely limiting the import and use of tobacco in an attempt to drastically cut smoking rates across the nation.

If the policy is adopted, it will make New Zealand the first country to wipe out smoking in all public places within the next 15 years.

The only other country with a similar policy is Finland, which plans to be smoke-free by 2040.

The proposal, which was devised after months of hearings, has been welcomed by doctors and given cautious support from the government, which said that smoking was a health hazard but that it would be difficult to completely eradicate it.

About 20pc of New Zealand’s 4.4 million general population smoke, but that rate is doubled among the indigenous Maori people.

“The goal is simple: We want tobacco consumption and smoking prevalence to be halved by 2015 across all demographics and New Zealand to be a smoke-free nation by 2025,” the report said.

While the recommendations are not binding on the government, the cross-party committee also recommended that the government to cut imports by a set amount each year, ban tobacco sales displays, impose annual price rises above the inflation rate and reduce duty-free import levels of tobacco products.

John Key, the prime minister, said that “it would be extremely difficult” to make New Zealand smoke-free by 2025, but that his government acknowledged the harm smoking caused.

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