New Zealand is considering a radical move to eliminate smoking in public places. However, critics say that similar laws in the UK would be difficult to implement.

  • New Zealand has introduced radical laws that will forbid future generations from using tobacco.
  • British experts said could be used as ‘global template for eradication of smoking’
  • Critics warn that any attempt at similar measures being introduced in the UK would be met with resistance

New Zealand’s radical new law, which could be copied around the world, will prohibit future generations of smokers from ever using tobacco products.

Wellington effectively makes it illegal to purchase cigarettes or tobacco during a person’s lifetime.

Under legislation announced yesterday, the minimum purchasing age –which currently stands at 18 – would keep rising year after year.

Only those over 80 years old will still be allowed to purchase tobacco after 65 years. Officials want to stop the practice decades before it becomes widespread. They aim to have less than five percent of people smoking tobacco by 2025.

New Zealand will ban future generations from ever smoking under radical new laws that could be copied worldwide (file image)

Under radical new laws, New Zealand bans future generations from smoking (file image).

British experts described the policy as an ‘experiment’ but admitted it could be used as a ‘global template for the eradication of smoking’ if it succeeds.

Critics warn that any attempt to introduce similar ‘prohibition’ measures in the UK will be ‘fiercely resisted’.

To reduce the deaths of New Zealanders due to smoking, the plan allows only the sale of products with low nicotine levels. It also limits the number and types of shops that are allowed to sell these products.

Dr Ayesha Verrall, the country’s associate health minister, who is spearheading the law change, said her work at a hospital in Wellington involved telling smokers they had developed cancer. ‘You meet, every day, someone facing the misery caused by tobacco,’ she said. ‘It’s a really cruel product.’

New Zealand has seen a steady decline in smoking over years.

New Zealand’s law changes will not affect the sale of vaping products. Currently, only 18-year-olds are allowed to purchase them. Sunny Kaushal, chairman of the country’s Dairy and Business Owners Group, said: ‘We all want a smoke-free New Zealand but this is going to hugely impact small businesses. The destruction of small businesses is the reason it should not be done. [convenience stores]This will save families, lives, and homes. It’s not the way.’

John Britton, emeritus professor of epidemiology at the University of Nottingham, said: ‘These are bold plans that will struggle to succeed without widespread public support…However, the basic principle of targeting tobacco smoking rather than nicotine use, and endorsing vaping as an alternative source of nicotine for smokers who want or need to carry on using nicotine, makes this approach far more pragmatic and far more likely to succeed than the outrightly prohibitionist approaches… It will be watched closely by all of the world. If it succeeds, it will set a global template for the eradication of smoking.’

However, Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ rights group Forest, said: ‘This is prohibition in all but name and prohibition very rarely works. If tobacco is made illegal to people born after 2008 it won’t stop younger generations smoking.

‘The sale of tobacco will simply be driven underground. The impact of this policy will hit non-smokers as well because the government will have to replace lost revenue by taxing something else.’

He added: ‘Any attempt to introduce a similar law in the UK would be fiercely resisted.’