“The Budget’s establishment funding to enable significant health reforms is positive news for those wanting a more centralised, concerted national health effort to achieve the likes of Smokefree Aotearoa,” said Loucas.
Sadly, smoking rates among Maori and Pacific people remain stubbornly high, and the AVCA has previously pointed out that the government must address this issue with urgency. Thankfully, the reforms will also establish a new Māori Health Authority.
“All our DHBs run successful ‘vape to quit’ smoking cessation programmes but the commitment and resourcing varies quite a bit. As a result, after 10 years of New Zealand wanting to be smokefree by 2025, we’re sadly not going to get there. The new health structure, however, provides an opportunity to turbocharge our national ambition,” she said.
The importance of educating smokers about the benefits of vaping
Earlier this year, Loucas explained that while it’s clear that vaping has helped so many Kiwis quit tobacco, Maori and Pacific people sadly remain decades off becoming smokefree unless significant interventions and actions are taken soon.
She has emphasized that just like the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) has been an effective catalyst for switching smokers to vaping, educating smokers about the relative benefits of vaping is key.
“It’s great the Government wasn’t tempted to hike tobacco tax. It’s terribly regressive, hitting the vulnerable the hardest with the high Māori smoking rate budging little. AVCA believes education remains key, as does ensuring vaping is an accessible and appealing alternative.”
“One missed opportunity in this Budget was that no extra funding was specified to support ‘vape to quit’ programmes and the Government’s latest Smokefree 2025 reboot. Nonetheless, Health New Zealand is being funded into life and its singular focus is a real opportunity to further reduce tobacco harm,” says concluded Loucas.
AVCA is encouraging submissions on the Government’s smokefree discussion document before 31 May via: https://www.health.govt.nz/publication/proposals-smokefree-aotearoa-2025-action-plan