New Zealand’s newly sworn-in government announced it is repealing a previously announced lifetime cigarette ban on young people to help deliver on its campaign pledge of making tax cuts.
The tobacco restrictions, which were signed into law last year while former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was still in power, would have banned the sale of cigarettes to those born on or after Jan. 1, 2009, starting next summer, among other things.
But Prime Minister Christopher Luxon’s administration has now effectively decided to scrap the plan.
Luxon noted that the rate of smoking has been consistently falling in the country.
“We will continue to make sure we have good education programs and encourage people to take up vapes as a cessation tool,” Luxon said, according to The Associated Press.
The news was first announced by Nicola Willis, the country’s new finance minister, over the weekend, who noted that New Zealand First and libertarian Act, the two parties that joined Luxon’s conservative National Party to form a coalition government, had pushed for the ban to be reversed, and Luxon’s party agreed.
The two parties also opposed Luxon’s plans to allow foreigners back into the country’s property market, which the National Party was counting on to deliver on its campaign pledge of making tax cuts, according to the BBC.
“We have to remember that the changes to the Smokefree legislation had a significant impact on the government books, with about a billion dollars there,” Willis told TV3’s Newshub Nation.
New Zealand’s smoking restrictions inspired a similar ban in England by U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, who called it the “biggest public health intervention in a generation.”