New Zealand Announces Plans to Scrap Tobacco Generational Ban

The tobacco generational ban introduced under the previous Jacinda Ardern-led government, would have banned cigarette sales to anyone born after 2008 as of next year. However, the National party which won 38% of the vote in the October 14th election, has shocked many by announcing plans to scrap this law.

Led by Prime Minister Chris Luxon, New Zealand’s new government has recently announced plans to repeal the generational smoking ban, which was introduced and approved under the previous government led by Jacinda Ardern. Designed to ban cigarette sales to anyone born after 2008, the measure aimed to combat smoking, the leading cause of preventable deaths in New Zealand.

Some health experts have strongly criticized the reversal, highlighting that the generational ban would have been greatly beneficial for public health. However, tobacco harm reduction experts had long argued that prohibition has never worked and that a generational tobacco ban would just fuel an already existing blackmarket whilst also  unintentionally making smoking more attractive to minors.

The Aotearoa Vape Community Advocacy(AVCA) had highlighted that a generational tobacco ban may even be illegal. The group emphasized that all adults have the right to make informed choices, and expressed concern about implementing measures that would prohibit a specific consumer product for a particular age group upon reaching adulthood.

Introduced last year, the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Smoked Tobacco) Amendment Bill included reducing tobacco retailers by 90% and limiting nicotine levels in cigarettes. Despite opposition, the new government, announced plans to repeal the Smokefree legislation, emphasizing its coalition partners’ influence in this decision.

Disposable vapes are banned
In other news, disposable vapes sales will be banned as of December 21st, unless they are compliant with new required standards including maximum nicotine limits, new labelling requirements, removable batteries and child safety features.

These standards will also apply to all vape models as of March, which will also only  be allowed in generic flavours and banned from using child-friendly images on their packaging. Moreover, new vape stores won’t be allowed within a 300-meter radius of schools and marae.

Former Health Minister Dr. Ayesha Verrall supported vaping as a tool for smoking cessation but advocated for tighter regulations so as to discourage youth vaping. The 2021/22 NZ Health Survey had shown an increase in daily adult vaping, however an Ash (Action on Smoking and Health) survey of the same year had reported a drop in daily vaping among year 10 students (14 and 15-year-olds).

ASH suveys reveal a drop in regular year 10 students in the last two years
Similarly, the most recent ASH survey revealed a decline in the number of regular vapers among Year 10 students for the second consecutive year, reaching 16.4%. However, the number of daily vapers remains stable at 10%. Ash finds this trend encouraging but notes that vaping rates are still relatively high.

Discussing the nicotine limit regulation, ASH chairman Emeritus Professor Robert Beaglehole, said that smokers switching to less harmful alternatives, such as vapes, tend to need a higher nicotine dose than the standard 20mg. This is because former smokers require an effective substitute that mathces the nicotine levels obtained from cigarettes, in order to remain abstinent.