New Zealand’s groundbreaking anti-smoking legislation has been reversed by the new government for economic reasons, despite the potential to save millions of lives and healthcare costs. The law, announced by former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, aimed to achieve a “smoke-free generation” by gradually increasing the legal smoking age. However, the new right-wing government opted to repeal the law in favor of historic tax reductions, driven by the significant tax revenue brought in by the tobacco industry.
The decision to repeal the anti-smoking law was openly admitted to be driven by economic interests, as the tobacco industry contributes approximately $2 billion in tax revenue annually to the New Zealand government. This move contradicts the potential savings of $1.3 billion in healthcare costs over the next 20 years as projected by a recent study.
Despite the efforts of the World Health Organization to prevent smoking-related health issues, only a few countries have fully implemented comprehensive measures. Fortunately, some countries, including Portugal, have started implementing their own anti-smoking laws with aims to achieve a smoke-free generation.
The decision to reverse the anti-smoking legislation in New Zealand has brought attention to the economic interests of the tobacco industry and highlights the challenges in achieving a truly smoke-free world.