Smokefree 2025 looms and The Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Advocates (CAPHRA) believes that the government needs to worry less about vape culture and more about hitting tobacco hard.
Vape culture has been key in the dramatic fall of adult smoking rates; helping drop it from 18 percent in 2006/2007 to 9.4 percent in 2020/2021. But the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Act that was passed in 2020, sanctioned vape products as R18, banned advertising, and heavily limited displays and packaging.
“Not one New Zealander has reportedly died from vaping, yet about 5,000 Kiwis die every year from smoking-related illnesses. We’re asking MPs to keep their eyes on the prize in the coming months.” Said Nancy Loucas, Executive Coordinator of the CAPHRA.
New Zealand is considered a leader in the Asia Pacific region for progressive, risk-proportionate vaping regulations that were debated to death more than two years ago. But with Smokefree 2025 getting closer, it remains easier to purchase cigarettes than it does a popular vape flavour.
The Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Smoked Tobacco) Amendment Bill is being introduced to parliament shortly, with its first reading expected to be later this month. Also known as the Smokefree 2025 Action plan, it is being criticised for not utilising vaping as a way to help kiwi smokers quit.
“The Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Action Plan is almost silent on vaping – incredible when you consider vaping is a key component to achieving smokefree and is 95% less harmful than smoking combustible cigarettes. We would’ve liked to have seen more resources and profile going into this incredibly effective smoking cessation tool.” Said Loucas.
What the bill does promote is limiting the number of retailers allowed to sell smoked tobacco products, prohibits the sale of smoke tobacco products to anyone born on or after the first of January 2009, and aims to make smoked tobacco products less appealing and addictive.
The bill is led by Associate Health Minister, Hon Dr Ayesha Verrall. But the CAPHRA has said that organisations with questionable funding links will do their best to promote submissions on vaping restrictions rather than smoked tobacco restrictions. Outgoing Director-General of Health Dr Ashely Bloomfield was said to be a supporter of vaping as a means to quit smoking and the CAPHRA only hopes that the next Director-General will have a similar attitude.