- reducing the number of cigarette retailers (beginning in 2024),
- reducing the nicotine in cigarettes (beginning in 2025), and
- gradually raising the legal age of sale for cigarettes to create a “tobacco-free generation.” This means people who are 14 or younger in 2027 will never be able to buy cigarettes.
Importantly, these efforts are also part of plan to address disparities in smoking rates. According to a Reuters article on the proposals, while the smoking rate among adults overall in New Zealand is 11.6%, the rate is much higher among indigenous Maori adults at 29%. As noted by Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall, “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 Māori smoking rates fall below 5 percent, and this Government is not prepared to leave people behind.”
The proposed set of policies would also increase cessation services.
New Zealand originally announced their endgame target in 2011 and have also implemented other measures to work towards the endgame, including requiring plain packaging for cigarettes and raising the price of cigarettes to what now amounts to about $20 USD.
Vaping products are currently prohibited for sale to anyone under age 18 in New Zealand and are not affected by these new proposals.
What is the “endgame”?
Endgame strategies have been defined as, “initiatives designed to change/eliminate permanently the structural, political, and social dynamics that sustain the tobacco epidemic, in order to end it within a specific time,” and moving towards the endgame means, “moving beyond tobacco control (which assumes the continued presence of tobacco as a common, widely-available ordinary consumer product) toward a tobacco-free future wherein commercial tobacco products would be phased out or their use and availability significantly restricted.”  Learn more about endgame approaches to commercial tobacco in our endgame podcast episode.