Duncan Garner: I'm impressed by the Government's courage with the world-leading move on cigarettes

OPINION: The AM Show has obtained exclusive details of the Government's yet-to-be-released plan to reach Smokefree status by 2025. 

Boy does this cause need a shot in the arm. The plan has been floundering - the last remaining smokers, all half-a-million of them, are proving awfully difficult to convince. 

This habit kills more than 5000 Kiwis every year. Ever since Tariana Turia left Parliament the plan has lacked someone who cares enough to keep it front and centre.

On Thursday, that changes. First-time MP and minister Dr Ayesha Verall has taken on the job of getting us to that goal.

She will launch a six-week consultation, and The AM Show can reveal the Government wants to dramatically reduce the amount of nicotine in cigarettes. It's proposing to remove 95 percent of it.

That's the stuff that makes you addicted. There are 16 milligrams of nicotine in a normal cigarette. The Government wants to take it down as low as 0.4.

Some may say it would amount to "prohibition" because, if passed into law, cigarettes sold here won't ever be the same again. But they'd be cheaper. 

It's unclear at this stage if full nicotine cigarettes would be banned, phased out slowly, or kept on the shelves at a higher price point. But if we pass some version of this into law it would be a world-leading move.

The Government will also have to address vaping and its role. Vaping helps people quit and I think it should become a free tool to current smokers, especially Māori and Pacific women who continue to smoke in large numbers. 

I'd also limit vaping as a smoking cessation tool and do all I could to stop young people picking it up as an alternative to smoking. 

But this nicotine move is world-leading, and I'm impressed with the Government's courage on this one. 

Duncan Garner hosts The AM Show.