Unexpected Rule Reversal Has Experts Worried

Unexpected Rule Reversal Has Experts Worried

(WatchDogReport.org) – According to a BBC November 27 report, the new government of New Zealand will scrap the nation’s world-leading law to prohibit smoking for the next generation to help pay for tax cuts. The media outlet pointed out that numerous health experts and public health officials in the country believe the decision will eventually cost thousands of lives and bring “catastrophic” consequences for Maori communities.

In 2022, New Zealand approved a bill that introduced a steadily rising smoking age, so those who were born after January 2009 would be unable to legally buy cigarettes. Government officials explained that the law was created to save the country’s health system billions of dollars by preventing thousands of smoking-related deaths.

The bill contained some other measures to make smoking less accessible and affordable, including a reduction of the legal amount of nicotine in every tobacco product, which allowed their sale exclusively through special tobacco stores. Another measure, which many business owners in New Zealand criticized, was to slash the number of stores that were allowed to sell cigarettes nationwide.

These new laws were going to be implemented from July 2024. However, the new government agreed to repeal the amendments, with the new Finance Minister Nicola Willis saying that the revenue from cigarette sales would go to the tax cuts. During an interview with Newshub Nation, he explained that the range of restrictions and the reduction of stores that are legally allowed to sell tobacco products will reduce revenue to the crown.

During an interview with the BBC, public health expert and tobacco control researcher at the University of Otago Richard Edwards said that many professionals in the area feel “disgusted” and “appalled” with the decision. He told the media outlet that what the new government is doing is a “retrograde step” on numerous health measures that are not only “excellent” but also “world-leading.”

Edwards also explained that the vast majority of health groups in New Zealand feel concerned and disappointed. When asked if they are taking any action, the professor said that they have already called the government to “backtrack.”

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