Luxon 'broadly' supportive of Govt's tobacco buying ban

Source: 1News

National leader Christopher Luxon says he is "broadly supportive" of the Government's plan to ban young people from buying cigarettes in their lifetime.

The Government has revealed its plan to bring the country's smoking rate down to less than five per cent, which included slashing availability and reducing the nicotine allowed in tobacco.

Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall confirmed the Government would also set a cut-off date, making it an offence to sell or supply smoking tobacco products to people born after a certain date.

The change could see, for example, a child who is 10 now never being able to buy cigarettes in their lifetime.

READ MORE: Govt to ban young people buying tobacco in their lifetime

Speaking to media in Christchurch on Thursday, Luxon said it was about time the Government formulated a plan, but was supportive of anything that saw New Zealanders stop smoking.

"The National Party had a really outstanding record I thought in driving towards a smoke-free New Zealand when we were in Government," Luxon said.

"This Government walked away from that and has been a bit late in coming up with a new plan and strategy. So we are broadly supportive of anything that stops smoking and fundamentally like anything we want to see the detail of what's being proposed."

Luxon pondered on how the rules would work if a 30-year-old could smoke while a 29-year-old could not, as well as what plans the Government had to prevent any black market for cigarettes.

"[We're] broadly supportive, we just want to see the detail.

"When one in four people in this country die from cancer associated with smoking, I think that's something we should all be committed to addressing and doing something about."

Verrall said earlier on Thursday there would be a transitional period between 2023-2025 before the law comes into effect.

ACT's Karen Chhour called it a "prohibition plain and simple and it will eventually create a black market".

"Prohibition has never worked – in any time or place – and it always has unintended consequences. The best way to wean people off tobacco is to allow the market to innovate and deliver products like vaping."

Green Party's Elizabeth Kerekere welcomed the plan, but said there was still more work to be done to avoid "the harms caused by criminalising substance use".