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NZ will ban cigarette sales for future generations

New Zealand says it will ban young people from ever buying cigarettes in their lifetime.

It will be one of the toughest attempts to stamp out smoking deaths in the world.

Starting in the year 2027, anyone up to 14 years old will never be allowed to legally buy cigarettes there.

Associate Minister for Health Ayesha Verrall announced the plan, which focuses on the disproportionate impact of tobacco on New Zealand's indigenous Maori population.

"We want to make sure young people never start smoking so we are legislating for a smoke-free generation by making it an offence to sell or supply tobacco products to those aged 14 when the law comes into effect.

"Our projections show that New Zealand's European population is likely to achieve smoke-free status by 2025. But Maori won't achieve this goal for decades if we don't act now."

The government will consult with a Maori health task force and public health experts in the coming months.

It wants to make the ban law by the end of 2022.

New Zealand authorities have not said how they plan to police it.

The country's tough restrictions will put it just behind Bhutan -- where cigarette sales are banned outright.

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