In December 2018, a team of researchers from New Zealand’s University of Otago, had pointed out that the likelihood of New Zealand achieving its smoke-free goal by 2025, is slim. They had explained that in order to achieve the Government’s 2025 Smokefree goal, five times as many Māori citizens would need to be quitting per year and twice as many non-Māori citizens.
Fast forward a year, and not much progress seems to have been made. “I think they’ve recognised they’re not going to hit the smokefree goals they’ve had for 2025. They are a long way off,” says David Sweanor, adjunct professor of law from the University of Ottawa.
“They are particularly off with Māori population. When we have the rates of smoking in an excessive 30% with a plan to get that to 5% in half a decade,” added Sweanor. Maori public health entity Hāpai Te Hauora has been leading the way amongst Māori health organisations in encouraging smokers to switch to vaping.
Similarly, the Maori Party of New Zealand thinks that just like nicotine gum and patches, electronic cigarettes should be subsidized by the government so that smokers can have access to the products for smoking cessation.
“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,” said Marama Fox, one of the party’s leaders back in 2017.
The Smoke-free Environments (Vaping) Amendment Bill
In the coming weeks, the Ministry of Health is introducing the Smoke-free Environments (Vaping) Amendment Bill in Parliament. This measure is expected to set in place much needed standards for vaping products which are supported by the local vaping industry.
Meanwhile, referring to the flavour bans that seem to popping up across the globe, GM for Hāpai Te Hauora, Mihi Blair, said that these would be counterproductive to the ongoing Smokefree efforts . “What we do know is that flavours are really important in the interview to start quitting and if they ban it then we know they’re going to go back to tobacco and who’s winning? Tobacco companies, not our people.”
Read Further: Te Ao