New Zealand have been slowly but surely chipping away at taking what they believe are the right steps in achieving their goal of the country becoming Smoke Free by the year 2025.
But these apparent “correct steps” have been scrutinized by some, deeming they’re not quite getting it right. In this article, I’m going to look at what’s been done so far, what’s potentially coming and the influence they are having on other countries.
What does Smoke Free by 2025 mean?
New Zealand embarked on a mission way back in March 2011 to get New Zealand Smoke Free by 2025. This being accomplished by less than 5% of New Zealand’s entire population being smokers. A bold statement but something that looks to be gaining traction to being achieved.
When this was declared, New Zealand encouraged other countries to follow suit, and the Government here in England made a vow shortly after declaring that England would be Smoke Free by 2030, 5 years later than NZ, and with the current situation here in England, it’s not looking it’ll even be achieved by 2035 unless something is done. You can read my more in-depth analysis on this HERE
So, what steps have New Zealand taken to making this a near feasible target?
The legal smoking age raised
One of the first proposal’s made in the original publication has very recently just come into effect, and that being anyone born in 2008 or after will never be able to legally buy tobacco products in the country of New Zealand.
This is probably the biggest and boldest proposal that’s now came into effect, and this minimum age limit will rise as every year passes by. This was launched in a bid to ensure that young people never start smoking as the ability to purchase tobacco products has been taken away and as a way to combat the youth smoking figures from increasing more than what they are currently.
This is an important thing to happen to the country of New Zealand, and I’m on the fence about it and whether it’ll give positive results. The main concern being the sale of tobacco products on “black market-esque” platforms seeing a rise, and young people wanting to rebel against the rules. The NZ government have confessed a rise in numbers of black-market smuggling of tobacco products into the country prior to this ruling coming in so it could potentially only keep going up.
Are reductions the right thing to do?
Two very bold suggestions have been proposed as part of the Government’s plans, which are as follows;
Reducing the number of tobacco selling outlets
The NZ Government wants to reduce the number of outlets that sell tobacco by a drastic 90-95% decrease. Again, another bold proposal amongst the others made.
This would obviously be beneficial to the government achieving their Smoke Free goal, but could it spell disaster to these outlets where tobacco sales make up a high percentage of their revenue? If that gets taken away, would NZ see not only a Smoke Free country, but also a shop free country if shops cannot continue to trade with such a sudden loss of revenue? Food for thought…
Reducing the nicotine content in Tobacco products
The government are enforcing a rapid reduction in the nicotine content available in tobacco products sold within the country.
This is an effort for people to not be able to get the necessary nicotine they are accustomed to and eventually wean themselves off smoking completely.
A crazy plan if you ask me, depriving people of something they may have an addiction, or dependency on just to achieve their own agenda is a bit selfish and not considerate to smokers either. Which leads me on to my next point…
A complete failure to support Vaping
Through all of these proposals since initial launch, and up to current day, the government have chosen to completely neglect vaping and not promote the fact it can actually help achieve this SmokeFree 2025 agenda they’ve set out, probably more than their brash suggestions they are implementing.
It’s been proven ever since the tax increase on tobacco products, that the sales of tobacco is plummeting in terms of volume and value, but this is all thanks to the options available now to help quitting smoking, with vaping being the most successful one! So why have they decided to not take up the opportunity to promote this proven method?
We all know how much of a positive effect that Vaping can have on someone looking to stop smoking, and it baffles me how the NZ government can be so negligent on the opportunity to promote vaping, instead, they’ve done somewhat the opposite and also imposed restrictions on the sale of specific vaping related products!
Thoughtless to make it Flavourless?
The harshest thing implemented by the government is the law restricting what flavours of vape juice can actually be sold. The only flavours available to purchase from non specific vape stores (Petrol stations, supermarkets, convenience stores and all others) are Tobacco, Mint or Menthol flavours. Just ludicrous if you ask me that a native NZ resident can walk in to a petrol station and buy 95% of the tobacco brands available, but if they’re wanting to quit smoking, or in the process of quitting via the method of vaping, they can only buy mint or menthol, which a lot of people do not like in vape juice, or a vape juice that taste like tobacco that they are trying to give up!
Flavours only available in “Specialist” Vape Shops and the creation of a Hybrid Vape Shop
Nobody likes following the rules to the absolute tee, and loop holes are always found and extorted, and that’s exactly what some retailers are doing in New Zealand to bypass the Flavour ban.
As mentioned above, Specialist Vape Shops are the only retailers allowed to sell flavoured vape juice besides tobacco, mint or menthol. Following the introduction of this legislation, some retailers affected by the ban have gotten clever, and created a boxed off area of their existing premises and registered it as a Specialist Vape Store and are then able to sell flavoured vape juices.
Now, as clever as this is and also a little bit comedic to myself, it’s also a little bit underhanded and definitely needs to be addressed. On investigation of these shops, sources have said that the staff cannot even answer simple questions on vaping like “What nicotine strength is right for me” and this is because they are not trained to the level like the staff would be in an actual Specialist store. The results could be catastrophic if the wrong advice is given and could lead to unnecessary unwanted media attention, when it’s in desperate need of positive media attention.
Will Smoke Free 2025 be a reality?
The question on everyone’s minds, mine especially is will the government’s proposal of Smoke Free 2025 become a reality?
As it stands, it’s very likely in my opinion, but at what cost will it come? Potential large loss of retailers not being able to sell tobacco products, which could make up a lot of their revenue, independent stores limited to what vape juices can be sold would also have their revenue affected by the rulings.
The sheer negligence and lack of support for vaping concerns me, and also angers me slightly that they’re not backing such an obvious method that could probably combat to amount of smokers in their country, but they know best I guess!
This is a topic I’ll be keeping a close watch on, and there will likely be follow up articles surrounding this so make sure you’re keeping a regular check on our Vaping Hub!