Tue. Feb 27th, 2024

La Nouvelle-Zé lande abandons its anti-smoking law to finance tax cuts

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New Zealand had adopted a law which would ban the purchase of tobacco products to anyone born after 2008.

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Barely coming to power, New Zealand's new right-wing government abandoned several progressive pieces of legislation, including the anti-smoking law which had become a model around the world. Legislation due to take effect next summer would ban the sale of tobacco to anyone born after 2008.

The law passed last year under the government of former Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was to gradually lead to a smoke-free New Zealand. Not only would the sale of tobacco be banned to anyone born after 2008, almost 90% of points of sale would be eliminated and the level of nicotine in cigarettes would have to be reduced.

The legislation was praised and described as progressive by a vast majority of public health experts. The modeling showed 5,000 lives saved per year thanks to these measures.

A law similar to that of New Zealand has also been was recently adopted in the United Kingdom.

But the anti-smoking law and progressive measures protecting the Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, are being sacrificed in the name of the economy and tax cuts.

New Zealand took a conservative turn in the October 14 election. Christopher Luxon of the National Party has become the new prime minister at the head of an unprecedented three-party coalition.

The number one task is to restore the economy, said Christopher Luxon in his inauguration speech. We need to reduce the cost of living and control inflation so that we can lower interest rates and make food more affordable.

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Christopher Luxon is leader of the New Zealand National Party.

New Zealand's new prime minister has justified the abandonment of the anti-smoking law by fears that it will promote the black market of cigarettes on the island.

We are appalled and disgusted, tobacco control researcher and professor of public health at the University of Otago, Richard Edwards, told the BBC.

This is an incredibly retrograde step from to leading health measures. Most health groups in New Zealand are dismayed by what the new government has done and are calling on it to reverse course.

A quote from Richard Edwards, tobacco control researcher and professor of public health at the University of Otago

During the election campaign, Christopher Luxon also denounced favoritism towards the Maori cause, according to him. In one of its first decisions, the Māori Health Authority was closed and government institutions that had adopted an indigenous name and use of the Māori language in recent years were instead renamed in English.

The Maori language is however one of the official languages ​​of New Zealand.

Even more worrying for New Zealand's indigenous people, the conservative coalition in power promises to review the provisions of the Treaty of Waitangi signed in 1840. This document signed during the annexation of the island to England ensures the protection of land and of indigenous culture.

Christopher Luxon's government wants to adopt changes to restore balance between all New Zealanders.

The minister responsible for the treaty changes is Paul Goldsmith, who previously stated in 2021 that colonization had benefited Māori, leading to an outcry. /p>

During the election campaign, David Seymour of the right-wing ACT party and member of the ruling coalition also declared that he wanted to reduce measures protecting Aboriginal people.

We have the right to debate whether our future lies in co-government [with Māori] and differential rights based on ancestry, or whether we want to be a modern, liberal, multi-ethnic democracy where every New Zealander has the rights same rights.

A quote from David Seymour of the right-wing ACT party and member of the ruling coalition

The Human Rights Commission of New Zealand recently released a report recommending that if amendments are to be made to the Treaty of Waitangi, they should be done jointly by Māori and non-Māori.

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