Tobacco kills up to half its users, killing more than 8 million people every year. To fight the issue, New Zealand has announced proposals to outlaw smoking for the next generation, with the aim of being smoke-free by 2025.
The Guardian reported that the country is looking into a gradual increase of the legal smoking age, leading to a ban on the sale of cigarettes and tobacco products for anyone born after 2004. This would make smoking illegal for that generation.
The country is also looking into slashing the legal level of nicotine in taboo products, banning filters and restricting places where the products can be sold.
Besides the devastating effects of tobacco on health, it is also a matter of inequality.
Over 80% of the world’s 1.3 billion smokers live in low and middle-income countries. In New Zealand, where around half a million Kiwis smoke daily, the effects are mostly felt among its indigenous people, the Māori. Māori women count for more than 30% of daily smokers and is the leading cause of death for indigenous women and second for Māori men.
The plans have been met with some criticism, with a right-wing party called ACT arguing that lowering the nicotine content can lead to smokers buying more to get their hit. Some have also warned that it could fuel the tobacco black market and questioned the extent to which a government should intervene in the lives of citizens.
Meanwhile, Malta’s smokers are among the most likely Europeans to light up every day, according to a recent EU survey. It found that 97% of Maltese smokers say they lit at least one cigarette a day. That is the second-highest rate in Europe, while the EU average stands at 67%.
However, smokers on the island are puffing less than they did three years ago, smoking two fewer cigarettes a day.
An initiative like New Zealand’s could help people kick the habit at a faster rate.
Do you think Malta should introduce this kind of ban?