New Zealand’s smoking ban is a good idea, but takes too long

The ban applies to 14-year-olds in 2027, before increasing the age each year

(Kristen Frier)

(Kristen Frier)

Smoking has long been a problem for younger people.

Smoking during childhood or adolescence can cause health problems such as an increase in risk and severity of respiratory illnesses, potential lung infections, decreased fitness, and early signs of cardiovascular damage and diseases. 

The health problems have increased greatly over the last couple decades and this has a lot of people concerned for the future populations. To address this, New Zealand has announced a plan to ban young people from ever buying cigarettes, starting with 14-year-olds in 2027.  

The ban will begin in 2027, after a number of intermediary phases, and the minimum age will increase each year, meaning it will be age 15 in 2028, age 16 in 2029, etc. This means that buying cigarettes will be illegal for everyone currently aged 8 or younger forever, even as they grow older. 

It may seem a bit ridiculous considering how many people smoke in this world, but it’s a start to make sure young people never pick up the habit. Making the product illegal to even purchase in the first place is a good way to prevent that. 

These restrictions won’t begin rolling out in stages until 2024, starting with a reduction in the number of authorized sellers. This is a long ways away for something that seems so alarming. According to New Zealand’s government, 80 per cent of smokers start before the age of 18, and smoking kills around 5,000 people each year. 

This is an effective strategy to help lower the rates of people who smoke over time, but this doesn’t seem fast and efficient. If anything, it could make people bitter and mad for missing out rather than grateful for the health benefits. 

Starting off with the early teens seems like a better bet than starting with those who might have already had years of smoking under their belt. It might be an easier transition. The gradual shift over the years will grow with the younger population.

This is supposed to help decrease the amount of smoking in the population for good, but what about the time it takes to get there? What about the young people who are smoking now? 

It’s a good idea of how to change the public’s smoking habits, but it will take some time to put it into play. 

If Canada decides to pursue something similar, which I do think they should consider, shortening the timeline is the best and most effective way to save lives, and holds the most benefits for the future generations of this world.