The New Zealand government has scrapped its proposed generational ban on sales of tobacco products.

As part of a Coalition Agreement between the New Zealand National Party and New Zealand First, the two parties are to repeal amendments to the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990 and regulations which would have seen the legal age to buy tobacco products rise every year to the point it would be completely illegal to purchase these products.

It also plans to reform the regulation of vaping, smokeless tobacco and oral nicotine products while banning disposable vaping products and increasing penalties for illegal sales to those under 18.

The UK government is currently consulting on similar measures when it comes to the legal age to able to buy tobacco as well as measures to curb the amount of youth vaping.

Submissions to the consultation can be made here by 6 December.

Simon Clark, director of the smokers’ group Forest, urged the UK government to follow suit. “The policy treats future generations of adults like kids and it won’t work. It will simply drive smokers into the hands of illegal traders and criminal gangs. “The consequences of the policy, which would eventually allow a 40-year-old to legally buy cigarettes while denying that right to a 39-year-old, are absurd.

“Having stolen the idea from the previous New Zealand government, the prime minister should follow the example of the next New Zealand government and scrap this crazy idea. It’s a waste of parliamentary time when there are far more pressing issues that require the Government’s attention before the next election.”

Christopher Snowdon, head of lifestyle economics at the free market think tank the Institute of Economic Affairs, added: “The eccentric idea of a generational smoking ban is doomed to failure. It is an unworkable pipe dream that will only enrich tobacco smugglers and erode respect for the law while doing little to reduce smoking.

“The Kiwi U-turn comes just weeks after the Malaysian government abandoned a similar policy because age discrimination is unconstitutional. Prime Minster Rishi Sunak now stands alone in the world, carrying the torch of a policy dreamt up by Jacinda Ardern at the fag end of a Labour government on the other side of the world.”