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New Zealand lifts world’s first ban on tobacco

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WELLINGTON, New Zealand: The New Zealand government says it has reversed a groundbreaking law banning the sale of tobacco to future generations, despite concerns raised by researchers and advocates about potentially deadly consequences.

Repealed on February 27, the world’s strictest tobacco regulations, which take effect in July, would have banned sales to people born after January 1, 2009. The world’s strictest tobacco regulations, set to take effect in July , prohibit sales to people born after January 1, 2009. people born after January 1, 2009. The legislation also aims to reduce nicotine levels in smoked tobacco products and reduce the number of tobacco retailers by more than 90 percent.

The newly elected coalition government, in power since October, claimed the repeal was an urgent matter, allowing it to abandon the law without seeking public comment, as previously reported.

Associate Health Minister Casey Costello highlighted the government’s commitment to tackling tobacco use, but indicated a change in regulatory strategy to discourage the habit and mitigate its harms.

“While our Coalition Government remains committed to reducing smoking rates, we are exploring alternative regulatory approaches to achieve this goal,” Costello said, hinting at upcoming measures to increase smoking cessation resources. Additionally, stricter regulations on vaping are on the horizon to deter youth use.

Criticism has mounted against the decision, particularly regarding its potential impact on public health outcomes in New Zealand. Additionally, fears persist that the repeal could exacerbate health disparities, particularly among Māori and Pasifika communities, who have higher rates of smoking.

Janet Hoek, a researcher at the University of Otago, condemned the repeal, highlighting its departure from evidence-based policies and its detrimental effects on health equity.

“Extensive clinical trials and modeling studies indicate that the legislation would have significantly increased smoking cessation rates and erected formidable barriers against youth initiation,” Hoek said, highlighting the missed opportunity to effectively combat the tobacco epidemic.

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