The New Zealand government is planning to ban smoking entirely among young people starting in July 2024 — a decision that has generated broad national support.
Bans on smoking have already been implemented among members of the United Nations commission on the status of women, non-governmental organizations, and media in New Zealand, but this will be the first time the restrictions will be enforced more broadly, by law.
While they rarely survive to adulthood, young people in New Zealand still spend more than $30 million (US$20 million) a year on cigarettes — just under half of the total amount spent each year. That figure is more than any other country in the world.
More than 80 percent of New Zealanders support the ban, according to a survey conducted by the television program NTV. The latest poll, conducted last week, found that 80 percent of respondents support the proposal, with just 19 percent opposed.
New Zealand is one of the first countries to move to a “zero tolerance” policy, according to the AP, and will join South Africa and Iceland as the only countries in the world to implement an outright ban in high school and age groups.
Many health experts say the move will help to reduce a culture of binge drinking that has spread to the country.
It is well documented that more New Zealanders die each year from alcohol than all of the countries who share the freezing and often freezing temperatures of Antarctica combined. On the opposite side of the world, where alcohol is consumed at more frequent drinking festivals, New Zealand has emerged as an undisputed leader.
New Zealand’s announcement to begin a crack down on smoking has sparked interest from Mexico and Turkey, where there have already been moves to ban all cigarettes.
Tobacco use is already banned in New Zealand public places as well as in workplaces, but previous bans have been widely ignored by the public. About the only exception to the ban on public smoking is a requirement to cover up smokers in public places, but it was so poorly enforced that it appears to be primarily aimed at combatting discrimination.
Supporters of the government’s proposal say that children are far more likely to be driven by public health concerns than adults, and that their parents’ experiences of smoking significantly influence their own decision to start using cigarettes themselves.
At the very least, if you’re a generation that has grown up with an under-current of binge drinking, the effect of New Zealand’s decision will be to encourage older generations to put the habit on the backburner and put youngsters off smoking by giving them a powerful incentive to smoke themselves.
Read the full story at The Guardian.
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