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N Z Med J. 2010 May 14;123(1314):55-67.

Four policies to end the sale of cigarettes and smoking tobacco in New Zealand by 2020.

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  • 1Health New Zealand Ltd, Lyttelton, Canterbury.



To phase out sales of cigarettes and of smoking tobacco products in New Zealand by the year 2020.


99% of tobacco is smoked as cigarettes. Cigarettes are highly addictive, lethal, and cannot be made safer. Since 1950 commercial cigarettes have prematurely killed over 160,000 New Zealanders. Despite causes-disease warnings on tobacco packaging (from 1987) and graphic warnings (2007), bans on tobacco advertising and promotions (1990), bans on indoor workplace smoking (1990, 2004), subsidies on medicinal nicotine (2000), and despite one-third of smokers annually making serious attempts to quit, 1 in 5 New Zealand adults smoke, 2 in 5 Māori adults smoke, and cigarette consumption per adult remains virtually unchanged since 2003. Four in 5 smokers regret they ever started.


Four policies combined could make cigarette smoking less attractive and the use of nicotine-only products more attractive, with respect to relative price, availability and addictiveness. These mean increasing tax on all cigarettes equally; and a bill to strengthen the Smoke-free Environments (SFE) Act: to allot cigarette sales quotas and then gradually lower them; reduce the nicotine content of cigarettes gradually by a sinking lid or by nicotine tax; and permit the sale of satisfying non-combustible nicotine-only products for smokers. As supply reduces, prices rise, and nicotine satisfaction decreases, smokers will quit; and black market risk will be minimised. Commercial cigarettes will no longer be obtainable, and even if some smoke tobacco grown legally for their own use, or even if some is obtainable illegally, tobacco consumption will greatly reduce.


The smoking of tobacco sold legally kills 5000 New Zealanders annually. The SFE Act can be amended to phase out legal sales within this decade. Intensive policy research is needed now as public interest increases. Support from the public and from legislators to promote a suitable amendment bill is now needed.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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