New Zealand repealed laws which banned the sale of cigarettes to future generations, the government announced today.

Under the leadership of Jacinda Ardern, the country passed a ground-breaking law in 2022 that would have ended the sale of tobacco to anyone born after 2008.

The law also included reducing the nicotine content of cigarettes and reducing the number of tobacco outlets.

However the new coalition government of the centre-right National Party overturned the law in an emergency procedure last night, bypassing the usual procedures.

Deputy Health Minister Casey Costello said the government remained committed to making New Zealand a tobacco-free country.

“New Zealand has had some of the biggest reductions in smoking rates recorded in the world in recent years and we want to build on the practical tools and approaches that have worked so far,” he said.

“The previous government was moving towards an untested regime which did not take into account how well smoking cessation initiatives were working or the potential downside of taking a prohibitionist approach for smokers or for retailers and crime.”

Labor leader Chris Hipkins said it was one “tragic milestone” for the country.

“The retreat of the government before the big tobacco companies while pretending to care about the health and welfare of New Zealanders is the stuff of dystopian nightmares. It lacks moral principles, it is content to continue to promote and support an industry that is literally killing its consumers,” said Hipkins.

Thousands of New Zealanders will be condemned to tobacco dependence, harm and a preventable death, Health Coalition Aotearoa has announced.

“The tobacco industry will be celebrating its victory after getting the government coalition parties, all of which have significant links to the industry, to adopt its agenda of keeping 284,000 smokers addicted to its products for as long as possible,” said the coalition co-chairman. Boyd Swinburne.

“Putting tobacco industry profits before the health of New Zealanders is grossly irresponsible,” Swinburne said.