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Health

New Zealand will be the first country to effectively ban smoking. Here's their plan to do it.

The government wants the country to be 'smoke-free' by 2025.

new zealand smoking ban, smoking bans, tobacco health
via Pixabay

A young woman smokes a cigarette.

The dangers of tobacco are well-known throughout the world but no country has been so bold as to try and stamp it out completely, until now. New Zealand passed a new law on Tuesday, December 13, that would phase out smoking throughout the country. The bill was passed by Parliament by a 76 to 43 margin.

The new law would make it illegal to sell tobacco to anyone born on or after January 1, 2009, for their entire lives. So, theoretically, by 2050, a 40-year-old will be too young to buy cigarettes. The goal is to effectively ban tobacco products by 2025.

Advocates for the law say that it will improve the country’s health and reduce the astronomical cost that smoking has on the country’s health system. New Zealand has universal healthcare and provides services to its citizens for free or at a reduced cost. So, the cost of smoking is shared among all its residents whether they smoke or not.


Currently, 8% of New Zealand residents smoke daily, which is half the number who smoked a decade ago. However, the percentage is considerably higher among the Indigenous Māori population, of which about 20% are smokers.

“Thousands of people will live longer, healthier lives and the health system will be $5 billion (US$3.25 billion) better off from not needing to treat the illnesses caused by smoking, such as numerous types of cancer, heart attacks, strokes, amputations,” Associate Health Minister Dr. Ayesha Verrall said in a statement.

“We want to make sure young people never start smoking so we will make it an offense to sell or supply smoked tobacco products to new cohorts of youth. People aged 14 when the law comes into effect will never be able to legally purchase tobacco. Smoking rates are plummeting,” she added. “Our goal of being smoke-free by 2025 is within reach.”

via Pixabay

The bill is a big win for public health, but it has rankled those who believe that tobacco should be a personal choice that isn’t made for people by the state. "No one wants to see people smoke, but the reality is, some will and Labour's nanny state prohibition is going to cause problems," the libertarian ACT party’s Deputy Leader Brooke van Velden said, according to the BBC. Van Velden believes that the ban will create a black market for tobacco and have unintended consequences.

Further, if someone is banned from buying cigarettes they can just ask someone older to purchase a pack for them.

The bill does not affect those who use vape products, which make up about 6% of New Zealand’s population.

The new law will reduce the number of stores authorized to sell tobacco products from about 6,000 down to 600. The legal amount of nicotine will also be dramatically reduced in products to make them less addictive.

Whether one sees the new bill as a massive piece of government overreach or a law that was a long time coming, it will no doubt have a positive effect on public health.

“There is no good reason to allow a product to be sold that kills half the people that use it,” Verrall told lawmakers in Parliament. “And I can tell you that we will end this in the future, as we pass this legislation.”

Photo by Eliott Reyna on Unsplash

Gen Z is navigating a career landscape unlike any other.

True

Every adult generation has its version of a “kids these days” lament, labeling the up-and-coming generation as less resilient or hardworking compared to their own youth. But Gen Z—currently middle school age through young adulthood—is challenging that notion with their career readiness.

Take Abigail Sanders, an 18-year-old college graduate. Thanks to a dual enrollment program with her online school, she actually earned her bachelor’s degree before her high school diploma. Now she’s in medical school at Bastyr University in Washington state, on track to become a doctor by age 22.

a family of 6 at a graduation with two graduatesAll four of the Sanders kids have utilized Connections Academy to prepare for their futures.

Abigail’s twin sister, Chloe, also did dual enrollment in high school to earn her associate’s in business and is on an early college graduation path to become a vet tech.

Maeson Frymire dreams of becoming a paramedic. He got his EMT certification in high school and fought fires in New Mexico after graduation. Now he’s working towards becoming an advanced certified EMT and has carved his career path towards flight paramedicine.

Sidny Szybnski spends her summers helping run her family’s log cabin resort on Priest Lake in Idaho. She's taken business and finance courses in high school and hopes to be the third generation to run the resort after attending college.

log cabin resort on edge of forestAfter college, Sidny Szybnski hopes to run her family's resort in Priest Lake, Idaho.

Each of these learners has attended Connections Academy, tuition-free online public schools available in 29 states across the U.S., to not only get ready for college but to dive straight into college coursework and get a head start on career training as well. These students are prime examples of how Gen Zers are navigating the career prep landscape, finding their passions, figuring out their paths and making sure they’re prepared for an ever-changing job market.

Lorna Bryant, the Head of Career Education for Connections Academy’s online school program, says that Gen Z has access to a vast array of career-prep tools that previous generations didn’t have, largely thanks to the internet.

“Twenty to 30 years ago, young people largely relied on what adults told them about careers and how to get there,” Bryant tells Upworthy. “Today, teens have a lot more agency. With technology and social media, they have access to so much information about jobs, employers and training. With a tap on their phones, they can hear directly from people who are in the jobs they may be interested in. Corporate websites and social media accounts outline an organization’s mission, vision and values—which are especially important for Gen Z.”

Research shows over 75% of high schoolers want to focus on skills that will prepare them for in-demand jobs. However, not all teens know what the options are or where to find them. Having your future wide open can be overwhelming, and young people might be afraid of making a wrong choice that will impact their whole lives.

Bryant emphasizes that optimism and enthusiasm from parents can help a lot, in addition to communicating that nothing's carved in stone—kids can change paths if they find themselves on one that isn’t a good fit.

Dr. Bryant and student video meeting Dr. Bryant meeting with a student

“I think the most important thing to communicate to teens is that they have more options than ever to pursue a career,” she says. “A two- or four-year college continues to be an incredibly valuable and popular route, but the pathways to a rewarding career have changed so much in the past decade. Today, career planning conversations include options like taking college credit while still in high school or earning a career credential or certificate before high school graduation. There are other options like the ‘ships’—internships, mentorships, apprenticeships—that can connect teens to college, careers, and employers who may offer on-the-job training or even pay for employees to go to college.”

Parents can also help kids develop “durable skills”—sometimes called “soft” or “human” skills—such as communication, leadership, collaboration, empathy and grit. Bryant says durable skills are incredibly valuable because they are attractive to employers and colleges and transfer across industries and jobs. A worldwide Pearson survey found that those skills are some of the most sought after by employers.

“The good news is that teens are likely to be already developing these skills,” says Bryant. Volunteering, having a part-time job, joining or captaining a team sport can build durable skills in a way that can also be highlighted on college and job applications.

Young people are navigating a fast-changing world, and the qualities, skills and tools they need to succeed may not always be familiar to their parents and grandparents. But Gen Z is showing that when they have a good grasp of the options and opportunities, they’re ready to embark on their career paths, wherever they may lead.

Learn more about Connections Academy here and Connections’ new college and career prep initiative here.

Joy

Sorry, Labradors. After 31 years, America has a new favorite dog.

The American Kennel Club has crowned a new favorite.

via Pixabay

A sad-looking Labrador Retriever

The sweet-faced, loveable Labrador Retriever is no longer America’s favorite dog breed. The breed best known for having a heart of gold has been replaced by the smaller, more urban-friendly French Bulldog.

According to the American Kennel Club, for the past 31 years, the Labrador Retriever was America’s favorite dog, but it was eclipsed in 2022 by the Frenchie. The rankings are based on nearly 716,500 dogs newly registered in 2022, of which about 1 in 7 were Frenchies. Around 108,000 French Bulldogs were recorded in the U.S. in 2022, surpassing Labrador Retrievers by over 21,000.

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@geaux75/TikTok

Molly was found tied to a tree by the new owners of the house.

Molly, an adorable, affectionate 10-year-old pit bull, found herself tied to a tree after her owners had abandoned her.

According to The Dodo, Molly had “always been a loyal dog, but, unfortunately, her first family couldn’t reciprocate that same love back,” and so when the house was sold, neither Molly nor the family’s cat was chosen to move with them. While the cat was allowed to free roam outside, all Molly could do was sit and wait. Alone.

Luckily, the young couple that bought the house agreed to take the animals in as part of their closing agreement, and as soon as the papers were signed, they rushed over to check in.
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This story first appeared on the author's Medium and is reprinted here with permission.

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