Authoritarian New Zealand to Pass Smoking Prohibition Law

New Zealand’s far-left government plans to outlaw smoking nationwide by 2025, the country’s health ministry announced Thursday.

Plans to effectively eliminate smoking in New Zealand over the next four years have now been finalized, New Zealand Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall told reporters on December 9.

“We want to make sure young people never start smoking, so we will make it an offense to sell or supply smoke tobacco products to new cohorts of young people,” she said.

The policy is part of a “Smokefree 2025” bill that is expected to breeze through New Zealand’s legislative process in 2022. The legislation “is a headline Labour policy, and the party holds a majority in New Zealand parliament,” the Guardiannoted on Thursday.

The New Zealand Labour Party is based on democratic socialism and is led by the country’s current prime minister, Jacinda Ardem. The politician was first elected prime minister of New Zealand in 2017 and was re-elected to the role last fall. Some observers questioned the legitimacy of the October 2020 general election because Ardem postponed the vote — originally scheduled for September — for one month citing “campaigning” difficulties presented by her own administration’s coronavirus lockdown measures in Aukland, New Zealand’s most populous urban center, at the time.

If the “Smokefree 2025” bill passes as expected in 2022, people in New Zealand age 14 years and younger at the time will never be able to legally purchase tobacco in the country. The public health plan will increase the legal age for purchasing tobacco products in New Zealand each year over the next four years to eventually create a “smokefree generation” of New Zealanders, Verrall said on December 9.

“Some decisions in the plan are non-legislative, such as practical support measures for smokers, but others will require amendments to existing legislation that is expected to be passed next year,” New Zealand’s Stuff news site observed on Thursday.

“This includes moves to ensure smoked tobacco products will only be sold by authorised retailers, that only smoked tobacco products with very low nicotine levels will be allowed for manufacture, importation, distribution and sale, and plans to restrict design measures aimed to enhance the appeal and addictiveness of smoked products,” Stuff detailed.

Roughly 8,000 New Zealand retailers currently sell tobacco products. The “Smokefree 2025” legislation would aim to reduce this figure “to about 500 under the new rules – meaning 7,500 will have to transition to a new business model,” Verrall said Thursday.

“Dairy owners facing loss of income after losing tobacco sales won’t be compensated,” she added.

Verrall referred to small dairy shops in New Zealand, or “dairies,” which traditionally sell tobacco products in addition to milk and other goods. New Zealand dairies rely heavily upon foot traffic from customers seeking tobacco products and will likely suffer tremendous financial hardship under the new smoking ban.

“Dairies will go out of business,” Sunny Kaushal, an advocate for New Zealand dairies, told Stuff in April when the “Smokefree 2025” bill was first proposed to the public.

“If the revenue is gone, how can they survive? We urge the Government to review this proposal and not take a hasty decision which could impact so heavily on small businesses,” he said.

A dairy shop owner in Glenfield, New Zealand, named Jessica Lee told Stuff at the time “business would become a lot more difficult if she could no longer sell tobacco.”

“Most of the people coming to the dairy are after tobacco products,” the small business owner said.

When asked by Stuff what she would do if the “Smokefree 2025” bill passed into law, Lee replied, “We might have to close the shop.”

Gabrielle Reyes