On Thursday, the government of New Zealand announced a new law, to be passed next year, under which the minimum age to buy cigarettes may keep rising year after year; the eventual goal being to have fewer than 5 percent of New Zealanders smoking by 2025.

In a public statement, released on the official website of the NZ government, Associate Minister of Health, Dr. Ayesha Verrall said, "This is a historic day for the health of our people... We want to make sure young people never start smoking so we will make it an offense 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."

Dr. Ayesha Verrall, Associate Minister of Health, New Zealand
Dr. Ayesha Verrall sworn in as a minister in the NZ parliament a year agoTwitter

In the note, Dr. Verrall also observed that in the past government has made several attempts to curb smoking by increasing excise tax, and "going further" may not really help people quit, but punish smokers struggling to quit. 

However, the new law wouldn't impact vaping. Verrall said that tobacco smoking is far more harmful and remains a leading cause of preventable deaths in New Zealand, killing up to 5,000 people each year, AP reported.

Representational ImageCreative Commons

The government also plans to implement major tobacco controls, including restricting where cigarettes can be sold, essentially to remove them from supermarkets and corner stores.

"We are also reducing the appeal, addictiveness, and availability of smoked tobacco products. New laws will mean only smoked tobacco products containing very low levels of nicotine can be sold, with a significant reduction in the number of shops who can sell them," the official statement read.

The Smokefree 2025 Action Plan was announced in the Parliament on Thursday morning. Dr. Verrall took to her Twitter to share a long thread of messages regarding the proposed plan, "For all the patients I have cared for who have been killed or maimed by tobacco – this one's for you."

She also added that the changes will not come into effect immediately, giving retailers time to transition to a new business model.