By prohibiting young people from purchasing cigarettes for life, New Zealand has enacted a novel strategy to eradicate tobacco use.
Tobacco cannot ever be sold to anyone who was born on or after January 1, 2009, according to the law.
The new law implies that the legal smoking age will continue to rise. Theoretically, someone trying to purchase a pack of cigarettes in 50 years would require identification proving they were at least 63 years old.
But health officials are hopeful that smoking will become less popular much sooner. By the year 2025, the lawmakers intend to make New Zealand smoke-free.
The new law also lowers the amount of nicotine permitted in tobacco that is smoked and reduces the number of retailers allowed to sell tobacco from approximately 6,000 to 600.
The Associate Minister of Health for New Zealand, Dr. Ayesha Verrall, argued before lawmakers in Parliament that there was no justification for allowing the sale of a product that kills half of those who use it.
She claimed that by preventing illnesses brought on by smoking, such as cancer, heart attacks, strokes, and amputations, the healthcare system would save billions of dollars. She continued by saying that the legislation would bring about generational change and leave a legacy of improved youth health.
The legislation was approved by the New Zealand parliament, 76 to 43, mostly along party lines.