The promising Vape to Quit campaign was announced last year by Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa and meant to go live on the 13th of October 2019, but sadly this never happened. When the HPA launched its Vaping Facts website in June 2019, it attracted over 50,000 visitors in its first three months, indicating significant interest.
Spokesperson of the Vaping Trade Association of New Zealand (VTANZ) Ben Pryor, is calling on the Government to make the most of the Covid-19 crises and instruct the HPA to reignite its ‘Vape to Quit’ campaign. “Many people assume the added stress of the past two months would’ve seen more Kiwis reaching for cigarettes, but that’s not our experience nor is it others overseas. People are desperate to quit, but they need help,” he says.
A boom in vape starter kit sales during COVID lock down
“We’ve really noticed a big increase in our Alt and Vapo Haiz starter kit sales. Our call centre is reporting that many smokers are using this time to quit tobacco so are seeking advice and turning to considerably safer and cost-effective vape products more than ever,” said Pryor.
“There are a few things at play here. People are quitting cigarettes because of their sheer cost and the increasing pressure many household budgets are now under. At the same time, the threat of Covid-19 has made many smokers more cognisant of their respiratory health and smoking’s second-hand effects on others in their bubble,” he added.
Only last week, New Zealand’s parliament passed the Smoke-free Environments (Prohibiting Smoking in Motor Vehicles Carrying Children) Amendment Bill and Ms Salesa has announced an education campaign about the new HPA rules. Mr Pryor says investing in quit smoking campaigns should be an equal priority.
Similarly on World Vape Day, the Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy (AVCA) joined millions worldwide in the celebration that we #LiveLifeSmokeFree. “Here in New Zealand, as we await next week’s Health Select Committee report on our vaping regulations, we remind the Government to ‘think of the children’ in the context of the social and health harms of tobacco,” says Nancy Loucas, Director of AVCA.
She pointed out that Maori communities in particular, have been suffering multi-generational financial and social harm from tobacco use. Of New Zealand’s 600,000 smokers, around 166,000 are Māori. “New Zealand’s bill to regulate vaping has the potential to address issues for at-risk Kiwi communities and their children in a pragmatic and risk proportionate way. It also could be a leading example of progressive public health policy in the wider Asia-Pacific basin.”
“We’re hopeful that the Government will take on board the thousands of voices who’ve constructively addressed the regulations during the consultation period and for MPs decisions to be based on scientific and statistical facts,” she said.