New Zealand will ban the sale of cigarettes to future generations as the country aims to become smokefree by 2025, the government announced on Thursday.
People aged 14 and under when the law comes into effect will never be able to legally purchase tobacco, Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall announced.
"We want to make sure young people never start smoking so we will make it an offence to sell or supply smoked tobacco products to new cohorts of youth," she said.
Under the new law, people will only be able to buy tobacco products with very low-levels of nicotine and fewer shops will be able to sell tobacco products.
"This is a historic day for the health of our people," Verrall said.
She said smoking is the leading cause of preventable death in New Zealand and causes one in four cancers. Smoking related harm is particularly prevalent in Maori, Pacific and low income communities.
"While smoking rates are heading in the right direction, we need to do more, faster to reach our goal. If nothing changes, it would be decades till Maori smoking rates fall below 5%, and this Government is not prepared to leave people behind."
Practical support measures for smokers would also be prioritized, Verrall said.
"Preventing people from starting to smoke and helping those who smoke to quit means we are covering both ends of the spectrum."
The new law still has to go through the legislative process.