New Zealand Scrappes Smoking Ban For The Sake Of Tax Revenue
Last year, New Zealand passed a pioneering law designed to prevent people born after January 2009 from ever being able to legally buy cigarettes. The law aimed to make New Zealand smoke-free by reducing smoking rates, especially among young generations.
However, the new government, led by Prime Minister Christopher Luxon, has decided to scrap this smoking ban. The reason? They believe that continuing cigarette sales would generate necessary tax revenue for the government. There were also concerns about the creation of a black market for tobacco if the ban remained.
Christopher Luxon, a former airline boss, has taken over after his conservative National Party won the national elections. His priorities include managing inflation and reducing interest rates.
The key reforms in the smoking ban were quite comprehensive. They included reducing the nicotine in tobacco products, limiting cigarette sales to special tobacco stores, and slashing the number of legal retail outlets from 6,000 to just 600 nationwide.
Now, how did health experts react to this reversal? They are shocked and disappointed. Experts like Professor Richard Edwards and Emeritus Prof Robert Beaglehole have criticized this decision, noting that it’s a step back in public health and could be harmful, especially to communities like the Māori, who have higher smoking rates.
The argument against the smoking ban leading to a black market for tobacco was voiced by the new Prime Minister, Christopher Luxon. He mentioned that concentrating cigarette sales in a few stores could lead to a rise in crime and an untaxed black market for tobacco.
Luxon described the move to revoke the smoking ban as a “huge win for the tobacco industry.” He emphasized that the government needs the tax revenue from ongoing cigarette sales and raised concerns about the potential black market.
The measures included in the anti-smoking ban were indeed groundbreaking. They aimed to make smoking less accessible and affordable, thereby reducing the number of smokers in the country.
New Zealand has become the first of its kind country that has chosen to prioritize economic interests over people’s health, by scraping the ban on smoking. This has led to a global debate between health concerns and economic considerations.