New Zealand is on track to make a historic decision to ban a group of people from smoking. If the proposal becomes a law, people born after 2004 in the country might lose their right to buy cigarettes.
The idea is intended to stop smoking in the country.
Lawmakers are working towards making the country smoke-free by the year 2025.
With this ban in place, younger people will lose their ability to buy tobacco at all. The country would also have to increase the age required to buy cigarettes gradually.
Other possible measures include the requirement to ban filters. Tobacco companies could also have to lower the amount of nicotine in their tobacco products.
In addition, the country might introduce minimum pricing and set limits on the places the tobacco products can be purchased.
The media reported that Dr. Ayesha Verrall, the associate health minister, had talked about the country requiring a new approach:
"About 4,500 New Zealanders die every year from tobacco, and we need to make accelerated progress to be able to reach that goal. Business-as-usual without a tobacco control program won't get us there."
Some Think The Move Is Long Overdue
These plans have won the backing of public health organizations, including New Zealand's Cancer Society. The chief executive at the institution, Lucy Elwood, claimed a high number of tobacco retailers in low-income communities.
According to Elwood, the initiative "goes beyond assisting people in quitting." As far as she is concerned, the "glaring inequalities are why we need to protect future generations from the harms of tobacco."
She pointed out that tobacco is the most harmful consumer product in history and therefore, it should be done away with.
There are significant smoking rates among some New Zealanders, such as the Māori and Pasifika communities.
Shane Kawenata Bradbrook, who has long advocated against smoking in the Māori community, says that the proposal will finally cause the end of tobacco use in New Zealand:
"For too long, the tobacco industry has been addicting our people, fleecing them of their money before we have to bury them in urupa [burial grounds] all over this land."
He expressed his desire to see the end of the tobacco industry in the country.
Not Everyone Is On Board
However, the right-wing ACT party was opposed to the idea and argued the law would result in poorer people spending more on tobacco and therefore smoking more.
According to ACT's social development and children spokesperson, people who can at least afford the cigarettes with lower nicotine levels will have to smoke more, and that will cause more harm to those around them.
Smoking is still a very common habit in New Zealand. However, over the past few years, attitudes towards this behavior have changed substantially.
For instance, vaping is incredibly popular, and for this reason, there are those who believe that in the next decade or two, smoking will be a thing of the past.