'Smokefree generation' that can't buy smokes will still be able to purchase vapes

Future generations of Kiwis will be banned from buying cigarettes in New Zealand - those who are 13 years old right now are likely to be our last smokers. 

It's one of a number of radical new steps to stamp out smoking. The number of places allowed to sell tobacco will be slashed from about 8000 to just 500. 

Shops will have to apply for a licence and the Ministry of Health will control the number in deprived neighbourhoods. 

Tamariki performed the haka at the Beehive on Thursday as Associate Health Minister Ayesha Verrall announced the Government is banning the sale of tobacco to their generation. 

"The truth is, there is no safe age to begin smoking," Dr Verrall said.

Those aged 14 years and under when the law comes into force - likely 2023 - will never be able to buy smokes.

"Fourteen-year-olds the smoking rate is very low in that group - it's about 1 percent - that's where we see the opportunity to really make the future difference for that generation," Dr Verrall said. 

There were mixed reviews from locals on Wellington's Cuba St.

"It is a good thing ultimately to phase it out," one person said. 

Another remarked: "I don't think the Government should tell people how to live their lives."

"Prohibition worked so well the last time we tried it," said another. 

But those who've tried to quit get it say nicotine is so addictive.

"It's the hardest thing I've ever had to try and give up and I still haven't succeeded after about 10 years," one person told Newshub. 

It's a radical world-first that's personal for Dr Verrall.

"I've looked after people who've had their limbs cut off, who have struggled to breathe as they died, who I've had to tell they've got cancer. It wasn't hard to convince me we needed bold change."

But the bold change doesn't extend to vaping. The generation that can't buy smokes will be allowed to buy vapes as soon as they turn 18.

"Tobacco is one of the most deadly substances and addictive substances there is and vaping is far less harmful," Dr Verrall said. "We need to make sure that our regulation is proportionate between smoking and vaping."

Under the 2025 countrywide quit, cigarettes will become less addictive. Only tobacco products with very low levels of nicotine will be allowed to be sold.

Smokes will be harder to get your hands on too. The number of outlets where tobacco products will be sold will be slashed.

"It will be dramatically reduced - around 500 outlets," Dr Verrall said. 

It would mean cutting off an income source for around 7500 shops. 

"We're making sure that we're saving the lives of several thousand New Zealanders every year."

Wellington dairy owner Dimpal Alpesh Patel says it'll crush her trade.

"It's really going to affect all the small businesses," she told Newshub. "I would say many businesses will have to close down their doors."

The minister is not interested in compensating business owners for lost revenue, because it's about the future - the future the next generation wants.