Not all ethnic groups are equal in front tobacco and nicotine addiction. Māoris who have higher rates of nicotine addiction and the most limited access to internet facilities to import vaping products are probably the most concerned by the strict restrictions on the sale of e-cigarette products. Other low socio-economic classes and Pacific Islands populations may also be impacted by the law.
New Zealand has strengthened smoking policies on nicotine containing products that include e-cigarettes so that people can buy approved nicotine reduction therapies (patches, lozenges) but not purchase any nicotine e-liquids in shops. The target for the nation is, for 2025, to reach a tobacco free situation.
Purchasing nicotine e-liquids is currently only possible from overseas online shops, using internet facilities that require bank accounts and credit card authorizations. However, the lowest socio-economic groups do not have such facilities.
“There is not enough evidence to be able to recommend e-cigarettes as an aid to quit” -NZ’s Ministry of Health
From the point of view of some Public Health professionals, among which the academic M. Glover, instead of fighting against tobacco, the new restrictions encourage inequity and disparity since the poorest groups may not have access to all possible means to quit smoking under the current system, and among them, nicotine vaping products. Linda Bauld is advocating along with NZ tobacco researchers before the NZ’s government so that it loosen e-cigarette rules
“I’m worried that the inequity and the disparity will increase because they are least likely to be able to access the nicotine e-liquid under the current system where nicotine is illegal to sell in New Zealand.” -M. Glover
Increasing amounts of scientific studies
comparing the risks of smoking compared to vaping conclude to a significant benefit associated with the e-cigarette in the framework of smoking reduction. And nicotine vaporizers’ efficiency have recently been recognized by the UK’s Health Professionals
as a proven method for quitting tobacco. Based on the findings of a study
in the New Zealand Medical Journal
that confirms the benefit of vaping, the Government is urged to change the law in order to allow an easier access to nicotine e-liquids on the territory.
“The decision about what is the most effective treatment absolutely has to be evidence-based” -J. Hoek
A strong debate is currently stirring the Country since the research group at the University of Otago, aiming to make the country tobacco-free by 2025, with the voice of its co-director Janet Hoek, advocates for a conservative attitude in front of the lack of long-term impact studies on e-cigarette use: “We really don’t want a situation where we’re re-introducing something like smoke tobacco which was initially touted as bringing some health benefits.”
The Ministry of Health’s website states: “there is not enough evidence to be able to recommend e-cigarettes as an aid to quit”. The agency will be facing a dilemma when re-opening doors on January 6, after the holiday period. Will the e-cigarette endorsement by UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron influence a possible relaxation?