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New Zealand to scrap smoking ban

New Zealand to scrap smoking ban

New Zealand’s new government plans to scrap the nation’s smoking ban to help fund tax cuts – while Rishi Sunak remains ‘committed’ to it.

The ban was first introduced by the government led by Jacinda Adern last year. However, after winning the 2023 general election last month, the country’s new coalition government led by Christopher Luxon plans to scrap it.

With smoking as the leading cause of preventable deaths in New Zealand, the legislation would have banned cigarette sales to anyone born after 1 January 2009. This ban sought to prevent young generations from picking up a smoking habit, and research showed it could have saved 5,000 lives each year.

The legislation was due to come into effect from July 2024, but this weekend Nicola Willis, the new finance minister, announced that it will be scrapped by March 2024. Instead, the revenue from cigarette sales will be going towards tax cuts.

She said: ‘Coming back to those extra sources of revenue and other savings areas that will help us to fund the tax reduction, we have to remember that the changes to the smoke-free legislation had a significant impact on the government books – with about $1 billion there.’

Rishi Sunak’s position ‘unchanged’

This comes after Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said he was considering similar smoking legislation at the Conservative Party Conference in October. He announced that he wants to give MPs a free vote on raising the smoking age year by year to eventually ban the habit.

This is because, unlike other products, there is no safe level of smoking, Sunak said. He also added that the measure would ‘save more lives than any other decision we take’.

Following the news of New Zealand’s smoking ban U-turn, a spokeswoman for Rishi Sunak has revealed that he plans to continue to implement his own smoking ban, and that his position ‘remains unchanged’.

She said: ‘We are committed to that. This is an important long-term decision and step to deliver a smoke-free generation which remains critically important.’

Sunak’s legislation would mean ‘a 14-year-old today will never legally be sold a cigarette and… they and their generation can grow up smoke-free.’ If successful, the UK will have the strictest smoking laws in the world.

What are your thoughts on this story? Do you think this could impact Sunak’s implementation of a smoking ban? Share your thoughts to

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