“The New Zealand Government needs to urgently take stock of a worrying return to deadly cigarette smoking in the US, before it introduces legislation to restrict vaping products here,” said Jonathan Devery, co-owner of the largest Kiwi-owned vape company Alt New Zealand.
His comment followed mounting concerns by experts in the United States over recent bans and restrictions of vaping products that now results in more Americans returning to cigarette smoking or using questionable bootleg vaping products – both posing a much greater danger to public health.
“New Zealand MPs keen to flex their muscles need to brace themselves for a surge in cigarette smoking as a result. That would be such a shame when latest Census and A C Neilsen retail data show record-low smoking rates and falling cigarette sales in New Zealand.”
Mr Devery says cigarette sales data just out of Massachusetts shows the state’s controversial four-month ban of all vaping products is already causing severe public harm.
Piper Jaffray analysis has revealed that since the Massachusetts ban, there has been a measurable increase in cigarette consumption, most likely due to large numbers of vapers migrating back to smoking.
US experts are also concerned that the different vaping bans are now forcing many vapers to purchase underground.
“All the Massachusetts ban looks set to achieve, for example, is an increase in disease and death. That’s a terrible outcome, especially when everyone accepts vaping saves lives, not to mention it remains the world’s most effective smoking cessation tool.”
The Kiwi vape entrepreneur points to a 2017 New York University study which projected that if most American smokers switched to vaping, between one million and six million lives would be saved.
As in the US, flavours are key to vaping’s appeal for adult New Zealand smokers, particularly the popular fruit and dessert flavours. He says making vaping less appealing will only lead to fewer giving up cigarettes and more returning to, or opting for, tobacco.
Mr Devery believes that if New Zealand bans popular and successful flavours, some Kiwi vapers may also feel forced to mix or acquire their own flavours which could be potentially dangerous.
“Ironically, a knee-jerk Parliamentary reaction to completely unrelated issues in the US, may in fact bring about similar problems here, with people heading to the black market for unregulated products.”
He says creating more problems, rather than solving any, is surely the definition of bad legislation. The Government needs to urgently assess and learn from some dangerous unintended consequences the US is now discovering.
“Proof is now amassing in the US that shows if you make vaping products less accessible or less attractive smoking rates start rising quickly. Similar moves here would cost New Zealanders their lives,” says Jonathan Devery.
Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa is set to introduce the Smoke-free Environments (Vaping) Amendment Bill into Parliament soon, which looks set to include a ban on popular adult vape flavours.
- “Sales Data Show that Massachusetts Vaping Product Ban Has Already Caused Severe Harm as Vapers Migrate to Smoking in Large Numbers”, Professor Michael Siegel – [link]