Generally, New Zealand vaping attitudes are positive inn terms of using e-cigarettes to tackle smoking rates. The New Zealand government is now looking to step up its endorsement of e-cigarettes by launching a new campaign, in August. This will seek to reduce smoking rates, particularly with regards to Maori women.

Vaping is permitted throughout New Zealand and experts claim that this has helped to decrease smoking rates to around 13%. This is unlike their South Pacific neighbours, Australia where smoking rates have stagnated, perhaps due to the country’s strict vaping laws.

New Zealand Ministry of Health’s current vaping stance

Whilst New Zealand vaping regulations are much more sensible than those seen in Australia, e-cigarettes are not yet officially government-recommended. On the stop smoking section of the New Zealand Ministry of Health website, there is no recommendation of vaping as a smoking cessation tool.

The page does however promote various NRT’s such as gum and patches. This section has the introduction of “Only stop smoking medicines that are proven to work are available in New Zealand.” This suggests that they do not recognise e-cigarettes to be proven to work.

Nevertheless, the Ministry has shown support for vaping and particularly in its Smokefree 2025 goal. Some of the key messages from the position statement on vaping state:

–          Evidence is growing that vaping can help people to quit smoking

–          Stop smoking services must support smokers who choose to use vaping products to quit

–          Despite some experimentation with vaping products among never smokers, vaping products are attracting very few people who have never smoked into regular vaping, including young people.

These are all very positive and it looks like they will be reflected in official recommendations.

New Zealand vaping campaign

According to national New Zealand media outlet, Stuff, the Ministry of Health will launch a pro-vaping campaign in August. Even sooner than that a website is expected to be launched to offer information and advice on e-cigarettes, this month.

The campaign in August will aim to make e-cigarettes an official tool to help smokers quit cigarettes. The campaign will be particularly targeted at Maori women, as this group has a particularly high proportionate smoking rate. It is estimated that the smoking rate in Maori women is around 37% compared with a national average of 13.8%.

As well as promoting e-cigarettes as a smoking alternative, the campaign will also aim to safeguard against underage vaping.

In line with the UK’s success

It’s refreshing to see the New Zealand taking positive steps towards tackling smoking. In the UK, we saw a surge of new vapers switching away from smoking, as government campaigns were launched.

In 2015, Public Health England estimated that “vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking”. Since then, vaping has featured in the government’s Stoptober campaign and numerous official reports have been released.

These endorsements coincided with a steady decrease in UK smoking rates. We hope that similar results are seen in New Zealand and particularly within demographics with the highest rates. It is important to neutralise the inequalities in smoking rates between various socio-economic groups. Chris Green, Totally Wicked smoking cessation lead said:

“Discrepancies in smoking rates between various socio-economic groups can be dramatic, particularly in countries with vast income inequalities. Smoking rates tend to be higher in more deprived areas and for people who have mental health conditions.

The reasons for this can vary but it’s essential to correct this smoking imbalance which can in turn help towards reducing inequalities on a larger scale.”