A leading vaping advocate says the Government’s smokefree action plan has failed to fully recognise vaping as a viable alternative for Kiwi smokers keen to quit.
“Vaping has been key to reducing our national smoking rate. Encouraging more smokers to switch to much safer and less expensive nicotine alternatives is critical to achieving smokefree. Sadly, on that score, the just-released Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Action Plan fails to acknowledge this fact,” says Nancy Loucas, co-founder of Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy (AVCA).
Before the action plan’s long-awaited release, ministerial diary records showed Associate Health Minster Dr Ayesha Verrall held teleconferences with the likes of ASH, Hapai te Hauora, the NZ College of Physicians, and vaping industry representatives.
“Dr Verrall consulted the public and various expert groups which are very supportive of vaping’s key role in smoking cessation. It’s surprising then given vaping’s success that it was not elevated as a key component to achieving Smokefree 2025,” she says.
Ms Loucas says for many Kiwi adults, trying to access their favourite vaping products remains harder.
“It makes total sense to reduce the availability of tobacco products, but it made no sense to reduce the availability of vaping products which are 95% less harmful. However, that’s what has happened since 11 August, with general retailers now only permitted to sell three vaping flavours.
“There needs to be more promotion and resourcing for vaping as the reduced risk alternative to smoking. The smokefree action plan should have signalled that the Government’s will review recent vaping regulations to ensure they’re fit-for-purpose and future-proofed,” she says.
She believes New Zealand’s vaping regulations and smokefree action plan have been done in silos when the two are in fact intrinsically linked and should dovetail towards the same end goal.
“Congratulations to the Government on giving smokefree a big push. It’s a shame our vaping regulations are not proportionate to the lack of risk, compared to combustible tobacco, and are not utilised to further assist the country’s Smokefree 2025 goal,” says Ms Loucas.