Ex-smokers saved by vaping need to offer some personal insights if Smokefree Aotearoa is to be achieved and before the Government takes some very counter-productive steps, says a leading tobacco harm reduction advocate.
“The Government is waving around its smokefree proposals, yet it’s tightening the screws on vaping – the world’s most effective smoking cessation tool. It makes no sense, so we’re calling on ex-smokers to tell the Government that vaping is key to smokefree,” says Nancy Loucas, co-director of Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy (AVCA).
Ms Loucas’ comments come as the six-week consultation period for the Government’s discussion document titled ‘Proposals For A Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Action Plan’ reaches its halfway mark. Released by Associate Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall, feedback closes on 31 May.
While the Ministry of Health’s online consultation is heavily focused on making tobacco products less available, less affordable, less appealing, and less addictive, AVCA says there is plenty of opportunity for submitters to raise the importance of vaping in the likes of the general comments section.
“I appreciate the Government doesn’t want to relitigate the vaping debate given legislation has been passed and the vaping regulations are now being finalised. However, smokefree and good vaping public policy go hand in hand,” she says.
The head of AVCA is concerned that policy contradictions will seriously hinder New Zealand’s smokefree efforts.
“Vaping is why New Zealand’s smoking rate has fallen in the past 10 years to a record low. Yet astonishingly its major contribution to the country’s health is not reflected in the Ministry’s latest smokefree reboot or its vaping regulations.
“Banning adults’ most popular vape flavours from supermarkets, service stations, and convenience stories is not risk-proportionate regulation. It will only make quitting cigarettes more difficult, but that’s exactly what’s going to happen on 11 August,” she says.
Earlier this month AVCA released information showing over $1.6 million of taxpayers’ money is being spent on the recently launched Vape to QuitStrong campaign. AVCA said the commitment proved the Government inherently knows vaping works.
“The Health Ministry, Health Promotion Agency, District Health Boards, and Maori health organisations all openly acknowledge vaping is a much less harmful alternative and an effective way for smokers to quit cigarettes. Yet the smokefree discussion document now out for consultation is largely silent on vaping.
“We’re calling on all smokefree supporters, ex-smokers who’ve been saved by vaping, and anyone else who wants Smokefree Aotearoa to actually happen to remind the Government of vaping’s critical role. Vaping needs support not suppression,” says Nancy Loucas.
AVCA is encouraging Kiwis to review and submit on the Government’s discussion document before 5.00pm on Monday, 31 May 2021 via: https://www.health.govt.nz/publication/proposals-smokefree-aotearoa-2025-action-plan
AVCA was formed in 2016 by vapers across New Zealand wanting their voices heard in local and central government. All members are former smokers who promote vaping to help smokers quit – a much less harmful alternative to combustible tobacco products. AVCA does not have any affiliation or vested interest in industry – tobacco, pharmaceutical and/or the local vaping manufacturing or retail sectors.