New Zealand has passed historic legislation that will prevent future generations from smoking cigarettes.

The unique law will come into force next year and states that tobacco can't ever be sold to anybody born on or after Jan. 1, 2009. It implies that the minimum age for buying cigarettes will keep going up every year. For example, 40-year-olds will not be able to buy cigarettes in 2050.

"Thousands of people will live longer, healthier lives and the health system will be $5bn better off from not needing to treat the illnesses caused by smoking, such as numerous types of cancer, heart attacks, strokes, amputations," said Associate health minister Ayesha Verrall.

"There is no good reason to allow a product to be sold that kills half the people that use it. And I can tell you that we will end this in the future, as we pass this legislation," added the minister.

The legislation will be accompanied by a number of other measures to ensure that it achieves its goal of making the country smoke-free by 2025. New Zealand has also reduced the legal amount of nicotine in existing tobacco products.

Tobacco products will only be sold through specialty tobacco stores, rather than corner stores and supermarkets. The law has also reduced the number of retailers who will be allowed to sell tobacco from about 6,000 to 600. However, it doesn't ban vape products.

The smoking rate in New Zealand is already at a historic low. Only 8% of adults smoke daily. The law intends to further reduce the smoking rate to 5% by 2025, according to a report in The Guardian.

However, the opposition parties have opposed the bill, stating that the law could create an unregulated, illegal market for tobacco products. The libertarian ACT party said that many small corner stores could go out of business because of the ban.

"We stand opposed to this bill because it's a bad bill and it's bad policy, it's that straightforward and simple," said Brooke van Velden, ACT's deputy leader.

Smoking and Bladder Cancer
Smoking and risk of developing bladder cancer. Photo: Pixabay