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Former Labor Leader Bill Shorten has publicly expressed his doubt surrounding Jacinda Arden’s radical proposal to make New Zealand the world’s first smoke-free nation.

Speaking on Channel Nine’s The Today Show, the Shadow Minister for Government Services told co-host Sylvia Jeffreys the aim to eradicate the deadly habit across the Tasman was a healthy approach – but also fraught with danger.

‘I was uneasy when I read about this….Both my parents died of catastrophic heart attacks and they were both long-term smokers. I’m no fan of smoking,’ Shorten said on Friday morning.

‘On the other hand, we’ve had a lot of government in our lives… we are basically saying smoking is illegal, it will lead to a black market in cigarettes.

Former Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has publicly expressed his doubt surrounding Jacinda Arden's radical proposal to make New Zealand the world's first smoke-free nation by 2025

Former Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has publicly expressed his doubt surrounding Jacinda Arden's radical proposal to make New Zealand the world's first smoke-free nation by 2025

Former Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has publicly expressed his doubt surrounding Jacinda Arden’s radical proposal to make New Zealand the world’s first smoke-free nation by 2025

The government proposal led by the New Zealand PM will see smoking eventually eradicated from society

The government proposal led by the New Zealand PM will see smoking eventually eradicated from society

The government proposal led by the New Zealand PM will see smoking eventually eradicated from society

Officials in NZ believe the country will save $5billion in health costs related to smoking as a result of the smoke-free 2025 action plan (stock image)

Officials in NZ believe the country will save $5billion in health costs related to smoking as a result of the smoke-free 2025 action plan (stock image)

Officials in NZ believe the country will save $5billion in health costs related to smoking as a result of the smoke-free 2025 action plan (stock image)

‘(At first) I thought “are they joking”,’ Shorten said.

On Thursday, the New Zealand PM announced the radical smoking plan, which will see the age limit increased each year until the expensive habit is eventually made illegal for all residents. 

The mandate will also see 7,500 of the country’s 8,000 suppliers and tobacconists out of business, with the unrelenting government saying they will have to find a new model.

Officials believe the country will save $5billion in health costs related to smoking as a result of the smoke-free 2025 action plan.

‘We want to make sure young people never start smoking so we will make it an offence to sell or supply smoke tobacco products to new cohorts of young people,’ Associate Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall said.

‘People aged 14 when the law comes into effect will never be able to legally purchase tobacco.’ 

Perth based breakfast radio identity Gareth Parker agreed with Mr Shorten, stating a section of people will resist the proposal in New Zealand. 

‘I’m not usually a fan of government telling us how to live our lives,’ he said.

‘With black markets, kids will still get their hands on them (cigarettes).

‘But I will say, if it discourages people from taking up a habit (from a young age) with no redeem value, I agree with it (plan).’

Australia has taken similar steps in curbing cigarette smoking and led the world with its plain packaging and shocking warnings (pictured)

Australia has taken similar steps in curbing cigarette smoking and led the world with its plain packaging and shocking warnings (pictured)

Australia has taken similar steps in curbing cigarette smoking and led the world with its plain packaging and shocking warnings (pictured)

NEW ZEALAND’S RADICAL PLAN TO COMBAT SMOKING 

Under the new proposals, young people aged under 14 will never be allowed to buy cigarettes in New Zealand.

Each year that age limit will increase, expanding the percentage of the population who will never legally be allowed to smoke.

The minimum age to buy cigarettes in New Zealand remains 18 for the moment.

The government is also restricting the number of shops allowed to sell cigarettes. 

Each year an additional age group will be added to the ban list until it’s illegal for the entire nation under NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Adern’s radical plan (pictured)

Just 500 nationwide will be issued with a licence, similar to a bottle shop’s licence to sell alcohol.

The nicotine strength in cigarettes is also being reduced in a bid to tackle their addictiveness.

Cigarettes prices have gone up 10 per cent every year between 2011 and 2020 but that alone was not stopping smokers. 

Eventually – with existing smokers dying –  health officials hope to see the entire country smoke-free.

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Source: Daily Mail

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