15 Apr 2021

Government considers raft of proposals to meet Smokefree 2025 goal

12:52 pm on 15 April 2021

The government is suggesting limiting the amount of nicotine allowed in cigarettes.

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Photo: 123RF

It's one of a number of proposals being put forward to meet the government's goal of making New Zealand Smokefree by 2025.

Others include restricting where cigarettes can be sold and creating a licensing regime.

The government is also talking about creating a smoke-free generation, where people who are under 18 next year will never be able to buy cigarettes.

Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall said the age limit would increase each year up to a certain age that has yet to be determined.

"Because there's a point a which taking up smoking is less likely after you reach a certain age and then that generation is unlikely to smoke for the rest of their life."

Public health professor Chris Bullen said studies show at low nicotine levels, non-smokers do not get addicted and smokers cut down or quit.

Bullen said the move would put New Zealand as world leaders in smoking cessation, with medication and emotional support to help smokers quit.

One option would be to offer the low-nicotine cigarettes at a lower price and then phase out the old products, he said.

Late last month the Cancer Society launched a petition calling for a significant reduction in the number of stores that are able to sell tobacco.

An University of Otago study found during the country's nationwide Covid-19 lockdown, people who felt lonely or isolated almost all the time were more than three times more likely to increase their cigarette intake than those who were never lonely.

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