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New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern at a December news conference in Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: Phil Walter/Getty Images

New Zealand officials announced Thursday legislative plans to outlaw smoking by making it illegal to sell or supply tobacco products to the next generation as part of a lifetime ban.

Why it matters: "People aged 14 when the law comes into effect will never be able to legally purchase tobacco," Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall said in a statement announcing the proposed law, part of the Smokefree 2025 Action Plan.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.
  • Verrall said smoking is "the leading cause of preventable death in New Zealand and causes one in four cancers."
  • University of Auckland Public Health Professor Chris Bullen said in a statement the government introducing an amendment bill that would also allow only very low nicotine levels in smoked tobacco products would be "a world-first."

How it works: The government was expected to introduce a bill in 2022 to Parliament, where Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern's Labour Party holds a single-party majority.

  • The government would progressively lift the smoking age from 18, beginning in 2027.
  • The number of stores permitted to sell cigarettes would be cut from roughly 8,000 to fewer than 500, according to the plan.

The big picture: NZ adopted vaping in 2017 as a means to help smokers quit, the BBC notes.

  • The government introduced vaping regulations last year, including prohibiting the sale or supply of such products to people younger than 18 years old.

Between the lines: "Reducing the number of shops selling tobacco especially in low-income areas will help to reduce youth smoking and restrict availability," Bullen said.

  • "Retailers will have to be 'authorized' to sell tobacco and won't be able to be concentrated in the areas of highest deprivation," he continued.
  • "But perhaps the next most bold idea is to introduce an amendment bill to prohibit the sale and supply of cigarettes to people born after a certain date, thus creating a 'smokefree generation.'"

The bottom line: Ardern said at a news conference Thursday that the legislation was designed to prevent young people from ever taking up smoking.

  • "Half of those who take up smoking die from its effects," she said.

What they're saying: Associations representing small stores that sell tobacco say they want compensation for loss of business and have expressed concerns that street gangs could sell cigarettes on the black market alongside illicit drugs when the law takes effect.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper

North Korea launches 4th suspected missile test this month

A news broadcast in Seoul, South Korea, of an apparent North Korean missile test on Monday morning local time. Photo: Jung Yeon-je/AFP via Getty Images

North Korea's military fired "two suspected short-range ballistic missiles" eastward from Pyongyang on Monday morning local time, per South Korean and Japanese officials.

Why it matters: The fourth such launch since Jan. 5 comes days after North Korea's military warned of "stronger" action if the U.S. moved to have more sanctions imposed on the country.

Thousands without power as "hazardous" winter storm lashes East Coast

Winter view from Charlotte as winter storm Izzy creates dangerous conditions in Charlotte, N.C. on Jan. 16. Photo: Peter Zay/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A major winter storm was lashing much of the East Coast on Sunday, causing widespread power outages and disrupting travel over the holiday weekend.

The big picture: Heavy snow and ice accumulations are "likely to produce hazardous travel," downed trees and more power outages from the Mid-South to the Northeast, per the National Weather Service. Some parts of the U.S. can expect to see up to a foot of snow through Monday.

Updated 41 mins ago - Politics & Policy

British national named in Colleyville synagogue standoff

A law enforcement vehicle sits near the Congregation Beth Israel synagogue on Jan. 16. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

British national Malik Faisal Akram took four people hostage at a Texas synagogue outside Fort Worth on Saturday, the FBI said in a statement.

The latest: Greater Manchester Police, in Northwest England, tweeted on Sunday night that officers had arrested and detained two teenagers in South Manchester for questioning in relation to the siege in Colleyville, Texas, "as part of the ongoing investigation into the attack."