Talking on a morning show about her stance on vaping regulations, the Prime Minister insisted that the devices should be treated and regulated as smoking cessation tools. “..doing the work as we speak. My understanding is that it’s not too far away… The complexity of course is we have an existing regime for tobacco and the question and the debate exists around how much you have your vaping regime absolutely mirror tobacco, or not.”
“If it’s a device that we want to use for people to quit smoking then you treat it in a particular way, rather than just having it as something that’s widely available and people might take up in its own right. I think our goal should be to help it as a tool to stop smoking not as something people individually take up,” added Ardern.
The VTANZ disconcerted by entities that treat vaping as smoking
In response to the Prime Minister’s comments, spokesperson for VTANZ, Ben Pryor pointed out that while Ardern’s stance is encouraging, the fact that both sides of the argument about vaping regulations are still being debated in parliament is disconcerting. “It’s encouraging to hear her sense of urgency and support for vaping as a smoking cessation tool. However, it’s a little alarming to hear that debate still rages inside the Government on the future availability of vape products and to what degree vaping regulations should mirror the country’s zero-tolerance smoking regime.”
“Restricting access to cigarettes should be the primary goal of the Government, not restricting access to a product that has been proven to be the best smoking cessation method ever. If the Government gets too tough on vaping availability and appeal for adult smokers, international examples show it will only result in smoking rates rising and a dangerous unregulated black market emerging,” he added.
The Smoke-free Environments (Vaping) Amendment Bill
The Prime Minister was unable to confirm when the regulations should be expected, however Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa is expected to introduce the Smoke-free Environments (Vaping) Amendment Bill into Parliament soon. This bill is expected to restrict marketing and ban most flavoured vaping products. Additionally, earlier this year the Kiwi Government launched a ‘vape-to-quit-smoking’ public campaign, endorsing the use of e-cigarettes as smoking cessation tools.
Pryor praised the work done by the Health Ministry, adding that the local industry hopes the government doesn’t use the situation to play on people’s emotions and win votes. “We are all for mandatory high safety standards, R18 sales, and against youth marketing. However, if the Government wants to keep driving down smoking rates, it needs to take a closer look at the good work its own Ministry of Health is doing, as well as all the supportive scientific evidence. Here’s hoping that New Zealand’s smoke-free ambition is not going to be killed off by some Beehive debate focused more on emotion and the election.”