New Zealand will become the world’s second country to ban smoking in indoor public spaces for children under 18 years old under draft regulations published on Thursday.
Currently, the country’s Clean Indoor Air Act bans smoking in smoking areas as well as private business premises that become public places, reported the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“This is about more children growing up in a healthier environment, breathing clean air, being able to exercise their right to go out and enjoy their favorite outdoor activities,” Health Minister Anne Tolley said in a statement.
Tolley said the government is still taking comments from the public on the new regulations, which will become law after nine months of consultation with the public.
“We want to hear what people think, what would work, and the difficulties they face,” she said.
Under the new guidelines, New Zealand’s 200 million tobacco users will be banned from lighting up in public places with children under 18 years old as well as council offices, hospitals, medical centers, libraries, and shops. It will also be prohibited in public transportation, at private clubs, sports venues, and outdoor swimming pools and beaches.
The plans were announced a day after some Australian states and territories passed sweeping bans on cigarette packaging in response to mounting concerns over the harmful effects of tobacco.
Under the laws, cigarette packages will no longer feature graphics, images or text encouraging smokers to switch to products that contain less tar, nicotine or carbon monoxide than the originals.
The changes mark a major shift from Australia’s $15 billion a year tobacco industry, which has accused politicians of treating smokers like criminals.