Call to Widen New Zealand’s Ecig Approach

Posted 21st September 2016 by Dave Cross
Last month, we covered the news that New Zealand’s government is set to make nicotine legally available for vaping. The widely applauded move is now being followed by calls for other countries to adopt a similar progressive and freethinking approach. Not only that, but experts are recommending that health professionals learn more about the products that can save millions of smokers’ lives, and that the government goes even further.

In August, End Smoking NZ wrote in a press release: “End Smoking NZ applauds the Government on its decision to make nicotine for vaping (using electronic cigarettes) legally available in New Zealand. The Government has agreed in principle that nicotine for e-cigarettes should be legally available for sale with appropriate controls. Currently it can only be imported for personal use creating often insurmountable barriers preventing smokers from switching to vaping.”

This month the same body is calling for health professionals to develop their knowledge about vaping so that they can support smokers looking to quit. Trish Fraser said: “The health professionals admitted that they didn’t know very much about e-cigarettes but they wanted to learn. Some of them had some concerns about nicotine e-cigarettes but said they would still support patients, who chose an e-cigarette for stopping smoking. The support they could offer, however, is currently limited because they don’t know where to buy e-cigarettes or how to use them.”

Some are advocating the government itself goes even further; David Sweanor, Clive Bates and Murray Laugesen have co-written a piece in the New Zealand Herald. In it, the trio call for measure to support “a widespread switch to e-cigarettes”, which “would cut exposure to second-hand tobacco smoke as they pose no material risk to bystanders” and mean that “smokers who switch to e-cigarettes are likely to avoid at least 95 per cent of the major smoking-related risks for cancer, heart disease and respiratory illness.”

Their article contains a request that vaping equipment is made more widely available, that the government train vape shop staff in educating smokers and that vaping should be legal in public areas such as the streets of Wellington. “Denying e-cigarette users the ability to vape would be wrong,” they argue. “It is unethical to deny a smoker access to products that are much safer than the dominant product on the market, cigarettes.”

Auckland University's Chris Bullen agrees: “I don't think they are a magic bullet. They're not the sole thing that's going to get us there, but I think they will help some population groups where we haven't seen a breakthrough before. There could be some real potential for Maori smokers.” Bullen added that he felt evidence for any supposed gateway effect was notable by its absence.

Cosmic vape shop owner Mark Carswell adds: “There is no question these new devices represent the current best option to help smokers of traditional cigarettes to cut back or even stop altogether. This is partly because they provide an 'oral fix' that nicotine patches don't.”

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker