New Zealand Smoking Ban: has scrapped its world-first legislation that would have banned smoking for future generations, citing economic reasons and tax cuts. The law was passed in 2022 under the former PM Jacinda Ardern-led government and aimed to make the country smoke-free by 2025 by gradually raising the legal smoking age and restricting tobacco product sales and nicotine content.
After being sworn in as the new Prime Minister of New Zealand, the former airline boss, Christopher Luxon, confirmed the news of scraping the country’s anti-smoking law. The move is being heavily criticised by health experts and anti-smoking groups who described it as a ‘big win for the tobacco lobby’ and a ‘step back in the country’s progress’.
New Zealand’s now-scrapped generational smoking ban was a phased initiative aimed at gradually raising the minimum legal age for tobacco purchases, ultimately creating a tobacco-free generation. It was implemented while considering the country’s 2025 Smokefree Aotearoa vision and used a supply-side approach to prevent the supply of tobacco to new generations. This ban was an integral part of a comprehensive tobacco control strategy, including increased taxes, graphic health warnings and smoking cessation support. By focusing on disrupting the cycle of nicotine addiction early on, the ban aimed to reduce smoking-related diseases and lighten the burden on healthcare significantly.
The harmful effects of smoking tobacco are well documented and luridly illustrated on most cigarette packaging. No lawmaker can say that they are against the proposal in principle. However, in recent developments, many have said on record that such legislation may result in increased smuggling and drive tobacco use underground.
The Luxon government argues that the smoking ban is unfair, inefficient and financially burdensome. It claims the ban would adversely affect the tobacco industry, small businesses, and tax revenues. Additionally, supporters of the U-turn claim that the ban could boost the black market and criminal activity.
The new government is already facing an overwhelming number of far-reaching repercussions. Health experts, anti-smoking groups, and opposition parties have criticised the decision, warning that it undermines efforts to reduce the effects of smoking, preventable deaths, and healthcare costs. Critics argue that the move benefits the tobacco industry, undermines international commitments and jeopardises the country’s standing in the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control.
The global tobacco market should be monitored and regulated more effectively, as it significantly influences the health and economy of countries and regions. The market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 2.1% from 2024 to 2032, reaching a value of USD 1057.59 billion, driven by the increasing number of tobacco consumers in emerging countries. The market is also dominated by a few prominent players, such as China National Tobacco Corporation, Philip Morris International, British American Tobacco, Japan Tobacco, and Imperial Brands, which have a combined market share of over 80%.
The market is also affected by consumer preferences, product innovations, government policies, taxation, and trade agreements. The market also faces challenges, such as rising health awareness, anti-smoking campaigns, legal disputes, and environmental concerns. However, the demand for tobacco products seems to remain the same. That is why more research and action are needed to understand and address the dynamics and impacts of the global tobacco market.
The tobacco industry in New Zealand plays a significant role in the country’s economy by providing employment, retail sales, and government revenue. Excise taxes on tobacco products are the primary source of funding for the New Zealand economy; the tobacco industry in New Zealand pays more than NZ$2 billion in total taxes annually.
It is also important to note that the Smoke-Free Policy would have saved the New Zealand health system approximately NZ$1.3 billion over the next 20 years, according to public health modelling done in 2022.
In India, tobacco is deeply embedded into culture and economy, which makes it a formidable challenge to curb its consumption. India has one of the highest rates of tobacco use and related diseases and deaths in the world. It faces significant challenges in enforcing its existing tobacco control laws and policies. Here, smoking is banned in public places and workplaces, there are restrictions on tobacco advertising and promotion and there are mandated graphic health warnings on tobacco packaging.
However, these measures have been poorly implemented and complied with and met with resistance from the tobacco industry. The country is home to a profitable tobacco industry that supports livelihoods and contributes significantly to the economy. India has not yet considered a generational smoking ban. Still, it has taken some steps to reduce the affordability and accessibility of tobacco products, such as increasing taxes, banning e-cigarettes, and proposing a minimum legal age of 21 for tobacco purchases.
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