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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.”

True

Do you ever feel like you could be doing more when it comes to making a positive impact on your community? The messaging around giving back is louder than ever this time of year, and for good reason; It is the season of giving, after all.

If you’ve ever wondered who is responsible for bringing many of the giving-back initiatives to life, it’s probably not who you’d expect. The masterminds behind these types of campaigns are project managers.

Using their talents and skills, often proven by earning certifications from the Project Management Institute (PMI), project managers are driving real change and increasing the success rate on projects that truly improve our world.

To celebrate the work that project managers are doing behind the scenes to make a difference, we spoke with two people doing more than their part to make an impact.

In his current role as a Project Management Professional (PMP)-certified project manager and environmental engineer for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Joshua Williard oversees the cleanup of some of America’s most contaminated and hazardous waste sites.

Courtesy of Joshua Williard

“Recently, I was part of a four-person diving team sent to collect contaminated sediment samples from the bottom of a river in Southeastern Virginia. We wanted to ensure a containment wall was successfully blocking the release of waste into an adjacent river,” Williard says.

Through his work, Josh drives restoration efforts to completion so contaminated land can again be used beneficially, and so future generations will not be at risk of exposure to harmful chemicals.

“I’ve been inspired by the natural world from a young age and always loved being outside. As I gained an understanding about Earth's trajectory, I realized that I wanted to be part of trying to save it and keep it for future generations.

“I learned the importance of using different management styles to address various project challenges. I saw the value in building meaningful relationships with key community members. I came to see that effective project management can make a real difference in getting things done and having on-the-ground impact,” Williard says.

In addition, Monica Chan’s career in project management has enabled her to work at the forefront of conservation efforts with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF-US). She most recently has been managing a climate change project, working with a diverse team including scientists, policy experts, data analysts, biologists, communicators, and more. The goal is to leverage grants to protect and restore mangroves, forests, and ecosystems, and drive demand in seaweed farming – all to harness nature's power to address the climate crisis.

Courtesy of Monica Chan

“As the project management lead for WWF-US, I am collaborating across the organization to build a project management framework that adapts to our diverse projects. Given that WWF's overarching objectives center on conserving nature and addressing imminent threats to the diversity of life on Earth, the stakes are exceptionally high in how we approach projects,” says Chan.

“Throughout my journey, I've discovered a deep passion for project management's ability to unite people for shared goals, contributing meaningfully to environmental conservation,” she says.

With skills learned from on-the-job experience and resources from PMI, project managers are the central point of connection for social impact campaigns, driving them forward and solving problems along the way. They are integral to bringing these projects to life, and they find support from their peers in PMI’s community.

PMI has a global network of more than 300 chapters and serves as a community for project managers – at every stage of their career. Members can share knowledge, celebrate impact, and learn together through resources, events, and other programs such as PMI’s Hours for Impact program, which encourages PMI members to volunteer their time to projects directly supporting the United Nations 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

“By tapping into PMI's extensive network and resources, I've expanded my project management knowledge and skills, gaining insights from seasoned professionals in diverse industries, including environmental management. Exposure to different perspectives has kept me informed about industry trends, best practices, and allowed me to tailor my approach to the unique challenges of the non-profit sector,” Chan says.

“Obtaining my PMP certification has been a game-changer, propelling not only my career growth, but also reshaping my approach to daily projects, both personally and professionally,” Chan says. Research from PMI shows that a career in project management means being part of an industry on the rise, as the global economy will need 25 million new project professionals by 2030 and the median salary for project practitioners in the U.S. is $120K.

PMI’s mission is to help professionals build project management skills through online courses, networking, and other learning opportunities, help them prove their proficiency in project management through certifications, and champion the work that project professionals, like Joshua and Monica, do around the world.

For those interested in pursuing a career in project management to help make a difference, PMI’s Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification could be the starting point to help get your foot in the door.

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