One of the Maori Party goals is to make New Zealand smoke-free by 2025, and co-leader Marama Fox who has been very public about his disdain for cigarettes, is even renowned for having called an Imperial Tobacco spokesman a “peddler of death, destruction and misery” in a tv interview last year.
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Currently, nicotine patches and gum can be purchased locally and are even subsidized by the government for smoking cessation, but in contrast, e-liquid for electronic cigarettes can only be purchased overseas.
However the Ministry of Health in NZ has been reviewing studies pertaining to the products, hence a decision on whether the devices should be legalised is expected to be announced soon.
An opportunity for harm reduction
Marama Fox is of the opinion that vaping products present an opportunity for harm reduction. “What we also have is statistics that show vaping is harm-reducing, not cancer-causing. We also have statistics that show vaping is a good cessation tool, that move people off cancer-causing combustible cigarettes onto something that, while it’s still addictive because it has nicotine in it, doesn’t cause smoking-related illnesses and isn’t a burden on the system.”
An article published earlier today on NZ Herald, said that currently about 546,000 Kiwis smoke daily, which equates to 15% of the adult population. Sadly about 13 people die daily from smoking-related diseases, which totals to about 5000 people per year. It was also calculated that 50% of smokers die from such diseases and that their lifespan would have been increased by at least 14 years had they not been smokers.
Supporting people by giving them needed tools
Tobacco control advocacy service manager, Zoe Hawke, said that on a regular basis she encounters many Maori who would like to switch to the safer alternatives but simply cannot afford the products.
“We just need to support people to get the initial tools, to get the e-cigs and then they will save money, especially when you look at the taxes on tobacco. It is making people think about giving up or if it is too hard for them, they are struggling with that extra cost so why not support our community by giving them a tool that will help them to stop,” said Hawke.