New Zealand: First smoke-free country?

A sign indicates a no-smoking area in a restaurant. This week New Zealand took steps to eliminate smoking country-wide with a new tax on cigarettes.

Jeremy Hobson: Here in this country there are smoking bans in workplaces and restaurants, but New Zealand could go even further and make the entire nation smoke free.

The BBC's Colin Peacock has the story from Wellington, New Zealand.


Colin Peacock: You can't smoke in bars here, you can't smoke in government buildings or even outside in some public parks. And soon, stores won't be allowed to display cigarettes on their shelves or counters, but the government here is going even further. This week they announced the already-high price of cigarettes will rise by 40 percent over the next four years -- to more than 15 US dollars a pack. It's all part of a politically-driven effort to stub out smoking in New Zealand completely by 2025.

Politician Tariana Turia supports the measures. She leads the party which represents the indigenous Maori people, who are the country's heaviest smokers.

Tariana Turia: My cousins have all died before they were fifty-five. I don't think a substance that kills people should be allowed to be sold. I have to ask why.

But smokers complain their right to choose is being trampled, and local cigarette company Imperial Tobacco warns the price increases will merely create a black market for tobacco, resulting in lost jobs and less revenue for the government.

In Wellington, I'm the BBC's Colin Peacock for Marketplace.

About the author

Colin Peacock is a reporter for the BBC.

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