“The move to ban vaping in three Waikato town centres is sadly based on snobbery not scientific evidence,” says Jonathan Devery, Director of Alt New Zealand – the largest Kiwi-owned vaping company.
“Once again we’re seeing a council claim its outdoor vaping ban somehow aligns with the country’s Smoke Free 2025 ambition. However, in reality, local councils that continue to stigmatise vaping are only hindering national progress.”
Mr Devery’s comments follow news that vaping will be banned in the Waikato town centres of Matamata, Morrinsville and Te Aroha. The Matamata-Piako District Council voted to add vaping into their Smokefree Outdoor Policy. In contrast, nearby Hamilton City Council decided not to ban vaping a few months ago.
“The Matamata-Piako councillors seem to have based their decision on vaping looking ‘distasteful’ to them. They clearly don’t realise that if they want local smokers to quit tobacco, they actually have to enable vaping, not demonise it. Vaping is the most effective smoking cessation tool and international research shows it has no second-hand impact on others, so what’s the problem?”
The leading Kiwi vaping entrepreneur describes the decision as completely misguided with the Matamata-Piako vaping ban following similar moves by other councils throughout New Zealand in recent months.
“Hamilton City, not the Matamata-Piako District, is the one showing progressive leadership in the Waikato when it comes to smoke free. In March, the Hamilton City Council voted to keep vaping out of the city’s smoke free policy and plan. They know the essential role vaping plays in successfully helping smokers to give up cigarettes.”
Switching from smoking to vaping has substantial health benefits and is key to achieving Smoke Free 2025 – something the Ministry of Health, Health Promotion Agency, health pressure group ASH, Quitline New Zealand, and public health leader Hapai Te Hauora all openly acknowledge.
Last month the Associate Health Minister, Jenny Salesa, launched a ‘vape-to-quit-smoking’ website as part of a concerted public information campaign.
“The Government fully understands that vaping is critical to our smoking rates falling. This will be reflected in the draft bill the Minister’s set to introduce into Parliament in three months to officially legislate and regulate vaping.”
“However, it’s a real worry that a key element of the national Smoke Free strategy is still not understood by many of our city and districts councils. They’re still viewing and treating smoking and vaping as the same. By continuing to put their personal bias first, councils are banishing the best tool they have to eliminate the dangers of tobacco in their community,” says Mr Devery.
Māori Television’s high-profile current affairs programme has also been the subject of criticism. Māori health advocates have accused it of “blowing smoke over vaping”.
Mihi Blair, tobacco control advocacy manager for Hāpai Te Hauora, said: “To put vaping into that conversation and say don’t promote vaping as a tool to quit, we’re actually pushing people away from a product, a tool that can actually help them. We don’t want that . We want as many tools as we can to support our people to get off tobacco.”
Ms Blair accused the New Zealand government of not moving fast enough.