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ASH is shocked by new government’s plan to repeal New Zealand’s Smokefree Act

24 November, 2023

ASH is dismayed at the new coalition government’s announcement today that it will repeal the country’s Smokefree laws, removing requirements for denicotinisation and halting a reduction in retail outlets selling tobacco.

ASH says Aotearoa has made huge progress reducing smoking in recent years, especially with people switching to vaping. Viable, safer and cheaper alternates to smoking have enabled us to be bold, and to introduce world leading smokefree laws that would end tobacco smoking.

ASH says the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (smoked tobacco) Amendment Act 2022 is a world first and it would spell the end of the tobacco industry in Aotearoa, an industry whose cigarette products continue to claim the lives of almost 5,000 New Zealanders every year.

ASH Director Ben Youdan says, “We are shocked that one of the coalition's first health measures is to essentially grant a pardon to tobacco companies, and allow them to continue selling products that kill almost 5000 New Zealanders every year.“

“Repealing the ACT puts the interests of the cigarette industry before the health of the nation. This will prolong the harm and suffering that smoked tobacco is causing to New Zealanders, especially those in the most vulnerable cohorts,” Ben Youdan says. Māori and Pacific people suffer the majority of premature deaths and illness from smoking.

The coalition government has also announced that it will introduce serious penalties for selling vapes to under 18s and will consider a liquor licence being required to sell vapes. ASH says this move is a distraction from the fact that repealing the smoked tobacco retail cap, and denicotinisation laws will leave deadly smoking tobacco for sale everywhere.

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Ben Youdan says, “Rather than leap straight into a dangerous and irresponsible repeal of our smokefree laws we encourage the coalition government to constructively address any concerns through regulation and working with scientific evidence.”

ASH says it has taken more than a decade to achieve this legislation, building on years of work and backed by huge public support. New Zealand is so close to achieving it’s goal of being smokefree by 2025 and have a generation free of smoked tobacco, undoing this now will set back the fight to end smoking related death and disease by years.

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