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Asia Minute

Asia Minute: New Zealand government plans to ban tobacco sales

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Smoking continues to be a major health issue around the world. The government of one country in the Asia Pacific is now working to make the sale of tobacco illegal for the next generation.

New Zealand’s government wants to phase out tobacco — and plans to change the law to accomplish that goal.

The country’s Health Ministry announced its strategy on Thursday.

Legislation will be introduced to make sure that anyone born after 2008 will not be able to buy cigarettes or any other tobacco product during their lifetime.

Right now, the government says a little more than 13% of New Zealand’s adults are smokers.

That’s down from more than 18% ten years ago.

The rate is much higher among the indigenous Maori population — where it’s nearly a third for women and about 25% for men.

The Health Ministry wants to cut the country’s overall smoking rate to less than 5% of adults by 2025.

Another part of the proposed new law would reduce the number of locations where cigarettes can be sold — from an estimated 8,000 to fewer than 500.

Opponents include the lobbying group for convenience stores.

The head of that group told a local news organization that “gangs and criminals” would create a black market in cigarettes to “fill the gap” of demand for tobacco.

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