NEW ZEALAND—The world’s first rule prohibiting tobacco sales to minors will be repealed in New Zealand on Tuesday, despite warnings from campaigners and researchers about the possibility of fatalities, the government announced. 
The world’s strictest anti-tobacco regulations, which were scheduled to go into effect in July, would have lowered the amount of nicotine in smoked tobacco products, prohibited sales to anybody born after January 1, 2009, and eliminated more than 90% of tobacco merchants.  
As previously mentioned, the newly elected coalition government, which was chosen in October 2023, affirmed on Tuesday that the law will be repealed urgently. 

 This will allow them to do away with the requirement for public comment. 

The coalition administration, according to Associate Health Minister Casey Costello, is dedicated to lowering smoking rates, but it is adopting a different regulatory strategy to deter smoking and lessen its harmful effects. 

“I will soon be taking a package of measures to cabinet to increase the tools available to help people quit smoking,” Costello said, adding that regulations on vaping would also be tightened to deter young people. 

The decision, heavily criticized over its likely impact on health outcomes in New Zealand, has also drawn flak because of fears it could have a greater impact on Maori and Pasifika populations, groups with higher smoking rates. 

According to researcher Janet Hoek from Otago University, repeal will not improve health inequities, would be inconsistent with substantial research evidence, and would disregard measures strongly backed by Maori leaders. 

“Large-scale clinical trials and modelling studies show the legislation would have rapidly increased the rates of quitting among smokers and made it much harder for young people to take up smoking,” said Hoek, co-director of a group studying ways to reduce smoking. 

The New Zealand Health Survey which has been monitoring trends in smoking continuously since 2011/12 revealed that the rate of daily smoking was 6.8% in 2022/23, down from 8.6% the previous year and 16.4% in 2011/12 . 

The survey which was the latest was collected from a randomly selected group of New Zealanders aged 15 years or over.

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