“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,” said AVCA co-director Nancy Loucas.
This call comes as the six-week consultation period for the Government’s discussion document titled ‘Proposals For A Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Action Plan’, which is meant to close on the 31st of May, reaches its halfway mark.
Shedding a light on the role of vaping
A 2019 survey found that only 0.8% of 14 and 15-year-olds were regular vapers, confirming that there is no vaping epidemic.
Loucas highlighted that submitters’ voices would help shed a light on the importance of vaping, when the Ministry of Health’s online consultation seems so heavily focused on making such products less available, less affordable, less appealing, and less addictive.
“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 said.
In line with claims from the US, some local media have said that there is a growing teen vaping epidemic. However, a survey of over 27,000 students conducted last year by University of Auckland researchers, found no such thing. The study found that only 0.8% of 14 and 15-year-olds were regular vapers, confirming that there is no vaping epidemic.
The public consultation on the smokefree discussion closes on May 31st
Meanwhile, with the public consultation on the smokefree discussion document closing soon, Loucas highlighted the importance of regulating responsibly. “I support tougher rules and regulations for tobacco. However, the Government would better advance smokefree if it also focused on risk proportionate measures for vaping.”
She added that the discussion document should have picked up on vaping’s success at reducing smoking rates. “Afterall, the Health Ministry, Health Promotion Agency, and District Health Boards have all successfully run ‘Vape to Quit’ promotions and programmes for years.”
The Vape to QuitStrong campaign
The AVCA is referring to newly released official information has revealed that the Ministry of Health has funded a budget of $1,670,000 for the Vape to QuitStrong campaign between the 2019/2020 and 2021/2022 financial years.
“After some delays while last year’s vaping legislation was passed, it’s great the Vape to QuitStrong campaign was launched a few weeks ago. It has made a good splash on the likes of primetime television and radio, with poster and bus shelter campaigns in communities with a high smoking prevalence,” said Loucas.
The total budget for the campaign includes strategy development, creative development, media placement, agency fees, and an allowance for operational costs. Vape to QuitStrong places an especially strong focus on young Māori women who remain disproportionately represented in New Zealand’s smoking rates.