It was only back in March when vaping in New Zealand was legalised.
Despite this change in legislation there was still scepticism around vaping in the country, meaning little endorsement as a quitting method due to a ‘lack of evidence’. Encouragingly, the ministry has recently adopted a fresh perspective on vaping in New Zealand and in a statement they said;
“Smokers who have tried other methods of quitting without success could be encouraged to try e-cigarettes to stop smoking,”
When used as intended, e-cigarettes pose no risk of nicotine poisoning to users … [and] release negligible levels of nicotine and other toxicants into ambient air with no identified health risks to bystanders.”
This is good news for vaping in New Zealand and has come about due to a Cochrane Review that found ‘evidence that e-cigarettes could help people quit smoking’, however the ministry is clearly still not fully convinced as in the statement they went on to say;
“Expert opinion is that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful than smoking tobacco but not completely harmless.
“A range of toxicants have been found in e-cigarette vapour including some cancer causing agents but, in general, at levels much lower than found in cigarette smoke or at levels that are unlikely to cause harm.
In 2011, an initiative named Smokefree 2025 was implemented in New Zealand with the aim of ‘reducing smoking prevalence and tobacco availability to minimal levels, thereby making New Zealand essentially a smokefree nation by 2025’.
This campaign had previously adopted an anti-vaping stance but with the tide now turning we hope to see e-cigarettes have the same positive impact as they have in the UK. Massey University Associate Professor of Public Health Marewa Glover shared this optimism by stating;
“It’s a very progressive stance. I am very happy the ministry made a science, evidence-based decision. This was the right and brave position to take.”
Will New Zealand’s neighbours follow suit?
With many countries all over the world following in the footsteps of the UK in terms of vaping policy, Australia is remaining stubborn in its negative stance on e-cigarettes. This is despite advice from experts around the globe.
Alongside Clive Bates, there is further support for vaping from key figureheads in Australia as Alex Wodak, director of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation has previously stated;
“Australia is doing everything right in terms of tobacco control, but one key difference with the UK and USA, where smoking rates have dropped, is our hostility to e-cigarettes”
Colin Mendehlson, Tobacco Treatment Specialist and Associate Professor in the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of NSW also shares pro-vaping views as he stated;
“You have to make decisions on what evidence you have at the time. I’m more than comfortable recommending e-cigarettes to people from what we know already about the vapour and the toxicology. No one is saying vaping is harmless, and nothing is as good as fresh air. But we can’t leave smokers who can’t quit to die while we wait for more evidence.”
Nevertheless, Health Minister Greg Hunt insists ‘the ban won’t be reversed on his watch’ so it seems for the time being the vape ban in Australia will be upheld.