Radical new plans will see young people in New Zealand banned from ever buying cigarettes as part of a drive to wipe out smoking by 2025.

Those aged under 14 in 2027 will be banned from ever purchasing cigarettes, with the age limit raised each year to create a ‘smoke-free’ generation.

The country’s associate health minister, Ayesha Verrall, said: “We want to make sure young people never start smoking so we will make it an offence to sell or supply smoked tobacco products to new cohorts of youth.

“People aged 14 when the law comes into effect will never be able to legally purchase tobacco. We are also reducing the appeal, addictiveness and availability of smoked tobacco products.”

The new law does not cover vaping, with Dr Verrall pointing to figures which show that tobacco smoking is a leading cause of preventable deaths, responsible for the deaths of up to 5,000 people each year in New Zealand.

While figures show that 11 per cent of adult New Zealanders smoke and nine per cent are daily smokers, the rate for the Indigenous Maori population is much higher. The government is setting up a specialist taskforce to help reduce smoking among Maori.

Not everyone is supportive of the smoking ban – some have warned it will lead to the creation of a black market, with one politician saying that ‘nanny state prohibition’ will not solve the problem.

However, the chair of the New Zealand Medical Association, Dr Alistair Humphrey, said: “The Smokefree generation policy will be a defining moment.

“Cigarette smoking kills 14 New Zealanders every day and two out of three smokers will die as a result of smoking.

“This action plan offers some hope of realising our 2025 Smokefree goal.”

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