November 2023

New Zealand’s ground-breaking generational tobacco ban, which prohibited individuals born after January 1, 2009, from purchasing tobacco products, is on the verge of being repealed. The recent elections in the country resulted in the National Party securing more seats than any other party, forming a new coalition government with New Zealand First. The newly formed government, under the leadership of the National Party, has declared its intention to annul the ban enacted in December 2022.

The Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Smoked Tobacco) Amendment Bill, which was revised to incorporate the generational restriction, made it unlawful to sell tobacco products to individuals born on or after January 1, 2009. This measure augmented the existing law that already prohibited those under 18 from purchasing tobacco. While individuals aged 14 to 17 at the time of the ban’s implementation would have been exempt, anyone born after 2008 faced a lifelong prohibition on legally purchasing tobacco in New Zealand.

Notably, the repeal will not immediately impact the number of potential tobacco customers, as the ban’s effects would not have been felt until 2027.

The law also imposed constraints on the retailers authorized to sell tobacco and vaping products, and it introduced nicotine limits for cigarettes. The new government plans to overturn these provisions by March 2024. Despite the rollback of certain tobacco and vaping regulations, the government aims to introduce fresh legislation prohibiting disposable vaping products and escalating fines for those found selling to individuals under 18.

Interestingly, both Hong Kong and the United Kingdom are currently in the process of planning their own generational tobacco bans, mirroring New Zealand’s initial approach. The evolving landscape of tobacco regulation reflects an ongoing global effort to address public health concerns related to smoking and tobacco use.

Grant Ovenden, owner and operator of told Cigar Inspector the following:

“As the owner of New Zealand’s largest cigar and pipe tobacco retailer,; I am confident that commonsense has returned to the New Zealand Government with the signing of the Coalition agreement to scrap the overreaching Smokefree 2025 Amendment Act introduced in 2022 that would have reduced tobacco retailers by over 90% and restrict tobacco consumers for generations to come.

Contrary to certain lobby groups and the opposition Labour Party; the new Coalition government is not “encouraging our children to smoke”; it is simply deploying commonsense and removing the auspicious new legislations the Labour Party had tried to put in place with very little input and with very little thought as to how it would be implemented and managed.

Given the Ministry of Health has just 1.5 humans trying to police the out of control vaping segment, most industry members were perplexed as to how they were going to fully implement the 2022 Amendment of the Smokefree 2025 Act.

As an industry leader, I am acutely aware that New Zealand was facing the closure of up to 5,500 convenience stores from a total of 6,000; this would have resulted in the direct loss of employment of 10,000 to 20,000 business owners and workers; and Treasury estimated a potential $1 billion dollars in lost revenue from excise duty on tobacco (tobacco tax) per year (currently excise duty on tobacco brings in just over $2 billion dollars in revenue for New Zealand).

Unfortunately (as expected) the backlash from medical groups, opposition political parties and anti-smoking lobbyists has come in very strong since the Coalition made their announcement to revoke the 2022 Amendment.

As of the 28th of November, 2023 we are as far away from reversing this as we are to be implementing it and the cigar & pipe aficionados are far from saved.

The Ministry of Health today have confirmed we still have to complete our ASTR (Approved Smoked Tobacco Retailer) licensing applications before this Sunday (December 2nd) and as far as they are concerned; the new 2022 Amendment Act will be fully enforced accordingly.

At the very least, the 2022 Amendment will not be revoked until March 2024 – around the same time the Ministry of Health are due to announce who out of the 6,000 outlets would get one of the 500 licenses on offer.

Lastly, the cigar and pipe aficionados of New Zealand continue to have their civil liberties impacted by the Ministry of Health’s “one law for all” and their ignorance of not separating out cigar and pipe smokers from their draconian legislation; whereas the Census (every 5 years) run by Statistic New Zealand for the New Zealand Government only determines a “smoker” as someone that smokes cigarettes on a regular basis. Cigar and pipe smokers who are not deemed “smokers” by the New Zealand Government are still controlled by the Smokefree 2025 Act sadly.”

Grant “The Cigar Merchant” Ovenden

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