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New Smokefree Law Will Protect Our Mokopuna

The next generation won’t suffer the harms of tobacco-use, health experts say following the passing of a new smokefree law.

Decades of hard-fought advocacy from health and community organisations has led to today’s milestone - the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Smoked Tobacco) Amendment Bill passing its third and final reading.

The government has responded to the resolute calls from more than 110 health, community, and research organisations, and 650 individuals, who signed Health Coalition Aotearoa’s letter of support for the government’s proposed Smokefree Action Plan.

The new law will create a tobacco-free generation, by making it illegal to sell tobacco to those born from 2009 and restricts the number of retailers.

HCA Smokefree expert panel member and regional manager of Takiri Mai te Ata Regional Stop Smoking Service Catherine Manning says the next generation will not suffer the same consequences from tobacco.

"Twelve people a day die because of tobacco, and it is our whānau, hapū and iwi who've disproportionately shouldered the burden of this destructive substance.

"With these reforms, we can now finally protect our mokopuna," she says.

While the political battle has been won, Manning says the next step is engaging with communities, particularly Māori and Pasifika, to support them through the transition.

"Communities need adequate resourcing for quit services as we transition to a Smokefree Aotearoa, so people aren’t left behind," she says.

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A bold measure to remove almost all nicotine from cigarettes, making them less addictive will also come into effect.

A national survey from 2019 found that 80% of smokers and recent ex-smokers supported reducing the level of nicotine in cigarettes and tobacco.

"Smokers want to quit, they’ve heard the evidence, they know that continuing to smoke will likely kill them, and very low nicotine cigarettes will mean smokers are less addicted and causing less irreparable damage to their bodies," ASPIRE 2025 co-director and HCA Smokefree Panel Member Andrew Waa says.

Smokefree Expert Panel chair Sally Liggins says it is a huge win.

"I am heartened by the groundswell of support that has been shown across all sectors for these new measures which will stamp out tobacco-harm in Aotearoa."

A huge thanks to Māori leaders Dame Tariana Turia, Hone Harawira and Shane Bradbrook as well as our communities whose tireless advocacy led to the inception of the Smokefree Free Aotearoa goal, and who campaigned for critical health measures such as excise tax on cigarettes and plain packaging.

A huge thanks also to all those who signed the HCA open letter.

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