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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.”

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From political science to joining the fight against cancer: How one woman found her passion

An unexpected pivot to project management expanded Krystal Brady's idea of what it means to make a positive impact.

Krystal Brady/PMI

Krystal Brady utilizes her project management skills to help advance cancer research and advocacy.

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Cancer impacts nearly everyone’s life in one way or another, and thankfully, we’re learning more about treatment and prevention every day. Individuals and organizations dedicated to fighting cancer and promising research from scientists are often front and center, but we don’t always see the people working behind the scenes to make the fight possible.

People like Krystal Brady.

While studying political science in college, Brady envisioned her future self in public office. She never dreamed she’d build a successful career in the world of oncology, helping cancer researchers, doctors and advocates continue battling cancer, but more efficiently.

Brady’s journey to oncology began with a seasonal job at a small publishing company, which helped pay for college and awakened her love for managing projects. Now, 15 years later, she’s serving as director of digital experience and strategy at the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO), which she describes as “the perfect place to pair my love of project management and desire to make positive change in the world.”

As a project manager, Brady helps make big ideas for the improvement of diagnosing and treating cancer a reality. She is responsible for driving the critical projects that impact the lives of cancer researchers, doctors, and patients.

“I tell people that my job is part toolbox, part glue,” says Brady. “Being a project manager means being responsible for understanding the details of a project, knowing what tools or resources you need to execute the project, and facilitating the flow of that work to the best outcome possible. That means promoting communication, partnership, and ownership among the team for the project.”

At its heart, Brady’s project management work is about helping people. One of the big projects Brady is currently working on is ASCO’s digital transformation, which includes upgrading systems and applications to help streamline and personalize oncologists’ online experience so they can access the right resources more quickly. Whether you are managing humans or machines, there’s an extraordinary need for workers with the skillset to harness new technology and solve problems.

The digital transformation project also includes preparing for the use of emerging technologies such as generative AI to help them in their research and practices.

“Most importantly, it lays the groundwork for us to make a meaningful impact at the point of care, giving the oncologist and patient the absolute latest recommendations or guidelines for care for that specific patient or case, allowing the doctor to spend more time with their patients and less time on paperwork,” Brady says.

In today’s fast-changing, quickly advancing world, project management is perhaps more valuable than ever. After discovering her love for it, Brady earned her Project Management Professional (PMP)® certification through Project Management Institute (PMI)—the premier professional organization for project managers with chapters all over the world—which she says gave her an edge over other candidates when she applied for her job at ASCO.

“The knowledge I gained in preparing for the PMP exam serves me every day in my role,” Brady says. “What I did not expect and have truly come to value is the PMI network as well – finding like-minded individuals, opportunities for continuous learning, and the ability to volunteer and give back.”

PMI’s growing community – including more than 300 chapters globally – serves as a place for project managers and individuals who use project management skills to learn and grow through events, online resources, and certification programs.

While people often think of project management in the context of corporate careers, all industries and organizations need project managers, making it a great career for those who want to elevate our world through non-profits or other service-oriented fields.

“Project management makes a difference by focusing on efficiency and outcomes, making us all a little better at what we do,” says Brady. “In almost every industry, understanding how to do our work more effectively and efficiently means more value to our customers, and the world at large, at an increased pace.”

Project management is also a stable career path in high demand as shown by PMI research, which found that the global economy will need 25 million more project managers by 2030 and that the median salary for project managers in the US has grown to $120K.

If you’d like to learn more about careers in project management, PMI has resources to help you get started or prove your proficiency, including its entry-level Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) certification program. For those interested in pursuing a project management career to make a difference, it could be your first step.

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