• May 23, 2024

‘Kiwi Standing Soiled by Age Ban U-Turn’

 ‘Kiwi Standing Soiled by Age Ban U-Turn’
Image: Valerii Evlakhov

The repeal of New Zealand’s generational tobacco ban has tarnished the country’s reputation as a leader in tobacco control, according to Chris Bullen, president of the international Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco (SRNT), reports Radio New Zealand.

In November, New Zealand’s new coalition government announced plans to scrap amendments to the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990 and regulations that would have banned anyone from selling or supplying smoked tobacco products to people born on or after Jan. 1, 2009.

SRNT is the world’s largest scientific society that researches tobacco smoking and nicotine, and its membership includes more than 1,300 scientists from around 40 countries. According to Bullen, many of his international colleagues have expressed dismay about New Zealand’s about-turn.

Martin McKee from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine told RNZ that reversing the smokefree laws to fix a tax cut funding problem was inexplicable.

“It just really speaks to the influence of the tobacco industry on our political leadership,” said Bullen.

Malaysia recently also dropped its generational tobacco ban plan, citing constitutional concerns, though critics blamed tobacco lobbying. Britain is reportedly backpedaling, as well, with reports suggesting it may settle for raising the smoking age to 21 instead.

Minister of Health Shane Reti has defended New Zealand’s plans to repeal the smokefree legislation. He said his administration was committed to cutting smoking rates and referred to the potential of harm reduction tools such as vaping to help achieve the desired reductions.