The sale of cigarettes for future generations will be banned

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New Zealand will ban the sale of tobacco for its next generation, in a bid to permanently eliminate smoking.

All those born after 2008 will not be able to buy cigarettes or tobacco products during their lifetime, according to a law expected to be passed next year.

"We want to make sure young people never start smoking," said Health Minister Ayesha Verall.

The move is part of a sweeping anti-smoking crackdown announced by the New Zealand health ministry on Thursday.

Doctors and other health experts in the country have welcomed "world-leading" reforms that will reduce access to tobacco and limit nicotine levels in cigarettes, reports.

"It will help people give up or switch to less harmful products and will make young people much less likely to become addicted to nicotine," said Professor Janet Hook of the University of Otago.

New Zealand is determined to achieve a national target to reduce its national smoking rate to 5% by 2025, with the aim of eliminating it permanently.

Currently, about 13% of adults in New Zealand smoke, up from 18% about a decade ago. But the rate is much higher - about 31% among the indigenous Maori population, who also suffer a higher rate of illness and death.

The New Zealand Ministry of Health says smoking causes one in four cancers and remains the leading cause of preventable deaths for its population of five million. Industry has been the target of lawmakers for over a decade now.

The number of stores authorized to sell cigarettes will be drastically reduced to below 500 from about 8,000 now, officials say.

In recent years, smoking electronic cigarettes that produce a vapor that also gives nicotine - has become much more popular among the younger generations than cigarettes.

However, New Zealand health authorities warn that smoking electronic cigarettes is not harmless. Researchers have found dangerous agents that cause cancer even in e-cigarette juices./ 21Media