“The Government’s gradual ban on all tobacco sales is prohibition plain and simple and it will eventually create a black market”, says ACT Social Development and Children spokesperson Karen Chhour.

“As a former smoker, I’m sick and tired of Labour trying to socially engineer us into changing our behaviour.

“No one wants to see young people smoke, but the reality is, some will. And Labour’s nanny state prohibition is going to cause problems.

“Prohibition has never worked – in any time or place – and it always has unintended consequences.

“Eventually, we will end up with a black market for tobacco, with no standards or regulation, and people will be harmed.

“The best way to wean people off tobacco is to allow the market to innovate and deliver products like vaping. Sadly, Labour has cracked down on that, too. This is just bad policymaking.

“By radically reducing the nicotine content of cigarettes, smokers will who can least afford it will spend more on their habit and in turn do harm to those around them if the Government mandates lower nicotine in tobacco.

“We knew Labour was dim, but trying to wean existing smokers off nicotine by making them smoke more tar takes the cake.

“And we know Labour won’t cut taxes, so they’ll be increasing the tax on nicotine by a factor of 20, hitting poorer New Zealanders hardest.

“A few smokers may behave just as the backers of this never-before-tried policy are supposed to and wean themselves off cigarettes and on to less harmful alternatives, but without doubt some will do everything they can to smoke more for the same hit.

“Some of those people will have responsibilities to little children, and they will suffer in the long run, creating a greater burden for the already stretched child welfare system.

“Where’s the research that says this is a sensible policy that won’t cost us all more in social impacts than it saves in healthcare?

“This will drive up the trade of black market tobacco with high nicotine, driving those addicted to cigarettes to turn to crime to feed their habit. The gangs will be rubbing their hands with glee.

“This reeks of a poorly thought out feel-good policy with numerous potential negative downsides – it’s classic Labour.”

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