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New Zealand scraps smoking ban, sparking demands for UK to follow suit | Politics | News

By admin Nov25,2023

Rishi Sunak’s flagship health policy of banning cigarettes for the next generation has been undermined today after New Zealand – the first country in the world to propose the ban – performed a major u-turn.

The policy, passed by left-wing PM Jacinda Ardern in 2022, was championed as a “historic law” helping thousands to “live longer, healthier lives”, and save the New Zealand health service billions of dollars.

The justification was copied by Rishi Sunak this Autumn, who announced an identical policy at the Tory Party conference.

Mr Sunak copied the Antipodean blueprint, pledging that a 14-year-old in Britain today will never legally be sold a cigarette.

Today Mr Sunak was left embarrassed after New Zealand’s new right-wing coalition announced a reversal of the key policy.

The New Zealand Conservative National Party beat Labour in the October election, and today announced it will dump the world-leading policy on the grounds it is “unnecessary”.

Attention has now moved on to the UK’s mirror policy, now Rishi Sunak has been left abandoned by his only international ally on the matter.

Asked this afternoon whether Mr Sunak will now follow Wellington’s lead, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “No, our position remains unchanged”.

“We are committed to that.”

“This is an important long-term decision and step to deliver a smoke-free generation which remains critically important.”

However, those on the right have already begun lobbying for Mr Sunak to ditch the policy, both on the grounds it is unconservative and impractical.

Speaking to the Express this afternoon, senior Tory MP Sir John Hayes said it is now clearly time for a major rethink.

“Clearly we now need to have a rethink about the blanket generational ban here in the UK.

“It is evidently unworkable, impractical and deeply unconservative.

“It is heartening to see New Zealand have recognised this and after speaking to many of my colleagues, I am quietly confident the government will see sense and follow suit.”

He was joined by the Freedom Association, the Institute for Economic Affairs and David Campbell Bannerman of the Conservative Democratic Organisation, who all demanded a u-turn on the anti-freedom policy.

Andrew Allison, chief executive of the Freedom Association, said: “Rishi Sunak is now an outlier”.

“New Zealand has ditched this policy and it is time for him to do so. Very few children start smoking these days, and those who do will still be able to buy cigarettes if this policy becomes law. Those cigarettes will be bought on the black market and will be even more harmful than the cigarettes purchased legally.

“This proposed graduated ban is unworkable nonsense from a Prime Minister who is rapidly running out of ideas.”

The IEA’s Christopher Snowdon said: “The Kiwi U-turn comes just weeks after the Malaysian government abandoned a similar policy because age discrimination is unconstitutional. Prime Minster Rishi Sunak now stands alone, carrying the torch of a policy dreamt up by Jacinda Ardern at the fag-end of a Labour government on the other side of the world”.

Mr Campbell Bannerman expressed his delight that “sense has returned in New Zealand”, but warned that the UK risked looking “ridiculous and isolated by persisting with a generational smoking ban.”

“We cannot go on with this bunker mentality any longer. It’s time to end the obsessive fixation on minor matters and stand up for wider freedoms,” he added.

By admin

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