New Zealand reverses landmark tobacco controls

The new government of New Zealand (Aotearoa) plans to abandon tobacco control measures, prompting condemnation from the Māori health organization Hāpai Te Hauora. These measures include raising the legal age of sale for tobacco products, reducing retail outlets, and removing nicotine from tobacco products, aimed at creating a smoke-free generation. Smoking is a major cause of health inequality and is responsible for the life expectancy gap between Māori and other New Zealand people. Momentum for action came from Māori leaders, who called for a return to the country’s original tobacco-free status, viewing smoking and the tobacco industry as manifestations of colonization. The smoke-free 2025 goal adopted by the National Party in 2011 aimed at narrowing the health gap.

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