In March 2017, 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 safety of e-cigarettes is still being developed.
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Similarly the following August, the Kiwi health ministry had made another announcement, this time saying that smokeless tobacco products such as snus and inhaled nicotine, were going to be added to the list of legalized products, as part of the Smokefree 2025 campaign.
Finally, the new legislation has been announced. New Zealand’s Associate Health Minister Nicky Wagner, said that despite the fact that scientific research pertaining to vaping products is still being developed, “there’s a general consensus that vaping is much less harmful than smoking”.
“The Government is taking a cautious approach by aligning the regulations around vaping with those for cigarettes. This ensures cigarette smokers have access to a lower-risk alternative while we continue to discourage people from smoking or vaping in the first place,” she added.
Wagner said that this change will be an opportunity to see how legalizing vaping will affect smoking rates. “This is an opportunity to see if restricted access to e-cigarettes and e-liquid can help lower our smoking rates, reduce harm and save lives. The Government is strongly committed to achieving our goal of a smoke-free New Zealand by 2025.” In the meantime e-cigarette sales to under 18s will remain prohibited, and vaping in spaces where smoking is banned, will remain forbidden.
Will Australia follow suit?
Subsequently, an article on News.com.au, pointed out that Australian vaping advocates are hoping that this change in New Zealand’s legislation will put pressure on Australian authorities to consider changing their harsh stance.. Australia’s Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt has famously said that the e-cigarette ban lift would never happen under his watch.
Last February New South Wales Minister for Health and the Minister for Medical Research, Brad Hazzard, was blasted by Australian award winning journalist and radio host Ben Fordham, on a renowned live radio show about the senseless position towards vaping that the local authorities have adopted.
Fordham had pointed out that two cancer action bodies in the UK and the US have updated their policies in relation to e-cigarettes, and are now actively encouraging smokers to switch to the safer alternatives. The radio host continued by pointing out that in contrast, Australian lawmakers are ignoring scientific research, making it difficult for smokers to obtain the devices, and therefore “ robbing smokers of an effective and safer device.” The minister failed to give a direct answer.
In the meantime cigarettes can still be purchased over the counter
In Australia e-cigarette devices are legal, but the use of nicotine-containing refills is not. In order to be able to purchase nicotine-containing e-liquids, Australian smokers who wish to switch need to first obtain prescription from a doctor, and then find a pharmacy that actually sells the liquids. However ironically, buying a packet of deadly cigarettes that are about 95% more harmful than e-cigarettes, is very easily done over the counter.