In March 2011, the Government of New Zealand adopted the Smokefree 2025 goal for the country. In line with this campaign, last April Associate Health Minister Nicky Wagner announced that e-cigarettes would be legalized. He said that in doing so New Zealand is adopting a low risk approach, while scientific evidence about the the safety of e-cigarettes is still being developed.
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A positive response to this approach
Public Health experts and politicians alike, amongst which the ACT party, were pleased with this decision. “Low income families are being absolutely destroyed by taxes on tobacco; this gives them the opportunity to get nicotine without paying excise tax,” said the ACT’s party leader David Seymour. The ACT Party thinks that being able to swap cigarettes for vaping products will save the 35.5% of Maori smokers hundreds of dollars a week.
In the statement released last week, the Health Ministry said that the potential of e-cigarettes in helping reduce the local smoking epidemic, will rely greatly on the rate at which current smokers can be encouraged to switch to the safer alternatives, whilst at the same time keeping adolescents and non-smokers away from the products.
“Recent decisions taken by Government have increased the focus on harm reduction with an aim to support smokers to switch to significantly less harmful products like e-cigarettes.” read the statement.
Endorsing e-cigarettes for harm reduction
Data obtained from a local study published last April, supports the figures published in 2016 by Public Health England (PHE), which had found that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking. “Expert opinion is that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful than smoking tobacco but not completely harmless,” read the Health Ministry’s statement in line with these findings.