New Zealand’s ban on tobacco sales will lead to “criminality and corruption”, warns IEA expert

Commenting on New Zealand’s plans to ban the sale of tobacco to its next generation, Christopher Snowdon, Head of Lifestyle Economics at free market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, said:

“Prohibition never ends well. The last government that tried to ban smoking was ISIS. Before that, the only place where the sale of cigarettes was banned was Bhutan, but that prohibition ended in 2020 because tobacco smugglers were bringing Covid-19 into the country.   

“New Zealand’s proposal is slightly more sophisticated, but it will lead to the same problems of criminality and corruption that always occur when governments try to ban popular products. Its exorbitant tobacco taxes have already resulted in an epidemic of shop robberies and other crime. 

“New Zealand has done well in dampening demand for cigarettes by encouraging the use of e-cigarettes. Youth smoking is now at very low levels. The government should continue to focus on demand-side policies and not be diverted by destructive supply-side measures for which there is no economic or ethical justification.”


Notes to editors

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