Starting in 2024, new laws were set to reduce nicotine levels in cigarettes to non-addictive levels, eliminate 90% of tobacco retailers, and establish a “smoke-free” generation by prohibiting cigarette sales to individuals born after 2008. However, these measures have now been scrapped, leading to concerns that the Māori community will be disproportionately affected.
In an effort to address the public health crisis caused by smoking, the government had planned to implement a series of stringent measures. The reduction of nicotine levels in cigarettes was aimed at making them less addictive and ultimately discouraging smoking. Additionally, by drastically reducing the number of retailers allowed to sell tobacco, the government hoped to limit access to cigarettes and discourage their consumption.
One of the most notable aspects of the proposed laws was the ban on cigarette sales to individuals born after 2008. This ambitious measure aimed to create a “smoke-free” generation by ensuring that no one born after a certain year would have access to cigarettes. By effectively cutting off the supply of tobacco to younger generations, the government aimed to significantly reduce smoking rates and its associated health risks.
Unfortunately, these plans have now been abandoned, causing significant concern among advocates. They argue that the Māori community, in particular, will be disproportionately affected by this decision. Māori people have been found to have higher smoking rates compared to other ethnic groups in the country. The scrapping of these measures means that Māori individuals will continue to have easy access to cigarettes with high nicotine levels, perpetuating the cycle of addiction and associated health issues.
The government’s decision to abandon these measures has sparked debate and criticism. While some argue that the proposed laws were overly restrictive and infringed on personal freedoms, others emphasize the urgent need to address the devastating impact of smoking on public health. The future of tobacco control in the country remains uncertain, and it is unclear what alternative strategies will be implemented to combat smoking and protect the well-being of all citizens, including the Māori community.