Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature The BMJ Interview

Will New Zealand be “smoke free within three years”?

BMJ 2022; 379 doi: (Published 23 November 2022) Cite this as: BMJ 2022;379:o2672
  1. Charlotte Lytton, freelance journalist
  1. London
  1. charlottelytton{at}

New Zealand wants to become the first country to create a “smoke-free generation,” with a ban on the purchase of tobacco to anyone born after 2008.1The BMJ asked Ayesha Verrall, associate minister for health, whether this “bold” plan is on track

In 2011 New Zealand first announced its intention to become “smoke free” by 2025.1 Why have efforts ramped up now?

“I came into office as associate minister of health in 2020, and it was apparent that we needed to take bold action to reach that goal. At that point our smoking rate was 11%. It’s now 9%, so we need to change what we’re doing to reach that target.”

Why are you personally committed to this cause?

“I’ve been a doctor until just recently. During most of my 20s, as a house officer and registrar, I’d spend my night and evening duties admitting people to hospital suffering the harms of cigarettes. …

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