New Zealand’s new government is to scrap a ground-breaking smoking ban introduced by the previous Labour administration.
The move is part of a coalition deal agreed between the National Party and two smaller parties, who had pressed for the abolition of the measure.
The law, passed in 2022, implemented an annually rising smoking age, and stated that tobacco could not be sold to anyone born on or after 1 January 2009. It was aimed at creating a ‘smoke-free generation’.
New Zealand’s incoming finance minister Nicola Willis said, however, that the smaller parties – New Zealand First and Act – had been "insistent" that the legislation be reversed.
Health experts have reacted angrily, with one public-health expert telling the BBC that the move was “an incredibly retrograde step on world-leading, absolutely excellent health measures".
"Most health groups in New Zealand are appalled by what the government's done and are calling on them to backtrack," said Professor Richard Edwards (tobacco-control researcher and public-health expert at the University of Otago).
The National Party, which won 38% of the vote in an election in October, only reached agreement on the formation of a new government last Friday.
The scrapping of the smoking measure is part of a package aimed at funding tax cuts.