New Zealand’s New Right-Wing Government Has Reversed Its Smoking Ban To Pay For Tax Cuts

The newly elected right-wing government said it will use the revenue from cigarette sales to pay for its tax cuts.

New Zealand’s New Right-Wing Government Has Reversed Its Smoking Ban To Pay For Tax Cuts

New Zealand’s new right-wing government has reversed its groundbreaking plan to ban smoking for future generations to help pay for tax cuts.

via Getty Images

In November 2022, New Zealand became the first country in the world to pass a new law making it illegal for anyone born after Jan. 1, 2009, to ever buy tobacco, including cigarettes.

As of 14 March 2018, legislation prevents tobacco companies using branding on their cigarette packaging.

It also prohibited tobacco products from being sold at supermarkets and corner shops, making them only available in specialty tobacco stores.

A close-up view of cigarettes on June 10, 2015 in Bristol, England. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

The law, which was due to be implemented in July 2024, was part of former prime minister Jacinda Ardern’s government’s plan to make New Zealand smokefree by 2025.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern arrives at a press conference at Parliament in Wellington, New Zealand. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)

But on Saturday Nov. 25, the newly elected right-wing government announced that it was scrapping the law and using the revenue from cigarette sales to pay for its tax cuts.

New prime minister Christopher Luxon – whose party won the election on a campaign of cutting taxes – said that the reversal would stop a black market from emerging.

new zealand Christopher Luxon smoking reversed
National leader Christopher Luxon arrives at Shed 10 after winning the general election in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

The shock reversal was widely criticized by health experts, who say it is a huge win for the tobacco industry at the expense of public health.

New Zealand bill english smoking reversed
<> on May 14, 2014 in Auckland, New Zealand. Finance Minister Bill English will deliver the federal budget Thursday and is expected to announce a surplus and approximately $NZD 1 billion in new spending.

Health experts say the move will put thousands of lives at risk and be especially damaging to Indigenous Maori communities, which have higher smoking rates and associated diseases and health risks.

NEW ZEALAND cigarette banned reversed
The tattooist subject has a cigarette to relax as he gets his pe’a, traditional Samoan tattoo in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Sandra Mu/Getty Images)

The law, which had widespread public support, would have saved the country’s health system US$800 million over the next 20 years and lowered mortality rates by 22% for women and 9% for men.

Christopher Luxon new zealand smoking
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – MAY 20: National Party Leader Christopher Luxon delivers a post budget address at Eden Park on May 20, 2022 in Auckland, New Zealand. Budget 2022 was delivered by Finance Minister Grant Robertson on Thursday. (Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Luxon has said that his government is still dedicated to lowering smoking rates but will do so through through education and other policies.

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