The meeting which included Chief Executive of the ARFNZ Letitia O’Dwyer, members of the scientific advisory board of the ARFNZ and representatives from the Ministry of Health, seemed to reach a consensus about the need for adequate e-cigarette regulations.
“We are really pleased to be talking with the Ministry of Health in terms of looking to improve regulation and education to the public. There is still little robust research around e-cigarettes and vaping and what the long-term effects are,” said O’Dwyer, adding, “We are delighted to be making progress and have started this dialogue with the Ministry of Health who are committed to providing the safest advice to the public.”
Both parties also agreed that it is imperative that both the public and medical professionals, are extensively educated about the products. “We want to get to a point where we can assist the Ministry of Health Tobacco Control group in disseminating a clear message to our health professionals in both primary and secondary care. We all acknowledge that there has been some mixed messages to date due to the lack of research in this area, but we are making good progress and are delighted to have started this dialogue,” added O’Dwyer.
The government has been dragging its feet in regulating e-cigs
Last March, associate Health Minister Nicky Wagner had said that e-cigarettes would be legalized and that New Zealand was adopting a low risk approach since scientific evidence about the the safety of e-cigarettes is still being developed. However, almost a year later, no formal action has been taken to initiate the legalization process.
In fact last month, the New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union appealed to the government to regulate electronic cigarettes without further delays, as increased cigarettes taxes have been linked to a rise in robberies of tobacco retailers. Union director Jordan Williams explained that households have less money and smokers are more likely to purchase cigarettes on the blackmarket, fuelling further robberies.
“The Government’s foot dragging suggests that the higher taxes were not about health, but about the money all along. The Government should halt increases to tobacco taxes, at least until the sale of e-cigarettes containing nicotine are fully legalized,” said Williams.
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