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New Zealand introduces sensible, balanced regulation for vaping

Posted on November 23, 2018

The Associate Minister of Health, Jenny Salesa (pictured) announced progressive new regulations on vaping and other smokeless tobacco products today. ATHRA applauds the regulations which find a sensible balance between helping smokers to switch to safer products and protecting people who don't smoke, particularly young people.

The NZ government approach to smokers is supportive and non-judgemental. It strongly endorses the role of tobacco harm reduction and recognises that alternatives beyond 'just quitting' are needed for some smokers:

'quitting can be difficult and that many smokers who find it hard to quit may be able to switch to much less harmful alternatives and often much cheaper alternatives, such as vaping'.

Jenny Salesa also recognises the huge cost savings for smokers, 'Vaping is also cheaper and this is important because people on low incomes have some of the highest smoking rates' she said.

Safety and effectiveness

The new policy is based on the following evidence summary:

  • 'There is scientific consensus that vaping is significantly less harmful than smoking (around 95%)'. 'The tar and toxins in tobacco smoke, rather than the nicotine, are responsible for most of the harm associated with tobacco use. Vaping and smokeless tobacco products do not combust and are, therefore, highly likely to be much less harmful than smoking.'
  • 'It is likely that vaping can also help smokers to stop smoking, but the evidence for vaping as an effective stop-smoking tool is still emerging'
  • 'Vaping products can benefit smokers who are able to switch, however, they are not risk-free'.
  • 'There is no robust evidence that vaping may be a 'gateway' to smoking for young people. Most young people who vape daily are smokers or ex-smokers'
The new regulations

The regulations focus on three main goals

  1. Encouraging smokers who find it hard to quit to switch to less harmful nicotine products

Vaping products will be available for adults who smoke and there will be a public information campaign to educate people.

2. Make products safer

All nicotine products and devices will be registered and subject to safety and quality standards.  There will be system for reporting any adverse reactions, a recall process for faulty devices and child-resistant closures.

3. Protecting non-smokers, especially children

The ban on sales to under 18 year olds will continue.

Vaping will be banned in smoke-free areas, although 'this is a precautionary measure' as there is no robust evidence of harm from second-hand vapour. Vaping will be allowed in vape shops,

Bans on advertising and promotion of vaping products will be retained and there will be some restrictions on display in retail stores

Comparison with Australia's regulations

Tobacco harm reduction is barely recognised in Australia. Australian governments take a quit or die approach to smoking and a punitive approach to smokers.

Vaping is effectively banned in Australia and discouraged by most tobacco control, government, health and medical organisations. Smokers who are unable to quit are forced to either vape and  break the law or take a two in three chance of being killed by smoking.

Australia continues to have a thriving black market with a lack of product safety and quality standards.

New Zealand smokers are fortunate to have this level of support by a government who genuinely understands their plight and is keen to support them.  Their progress highlights how far Australia is falling behind best practice in denying safer alternatives to smokers who are unable to quit.


Media release: Vaping and smokeless tobacco products to be regulated

Cabinet paper: Supporting smokers to switch to significantly less harmful alternatives

Posted by Colin Mendelsohn, 

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One Reply to “New Zealand introduces sensible, balanced regulation for vaping”

Rusell Campbell

It has been 2 years since I converted to this new technology called vaping after fifty years of smoking traditional cigarettes and failing health. Now there is no more wheezing, coughing and shortness of breath. Vaping has been a life changing experience for me. I've gradually reduced my nicotine intake from 24mg initially to just 3mg currently. Trouble is I purchase the nicotine on the black market and the quality often varies and some can be sickening. This could be viewed as a pathway to other illicit products not only for the purchaser but also for the seller.

It certainly appears that the only logical reason the Australian Government does not support/promote this safer alternative to cigarette smoking is financial. The Federal Heath Minister should be sacked for not fulfilling his duties by placing so many lives at risk when he should be doing everything in his power to help them.

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