The Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy (AVCA) has slammed Hamilton City councillors for classing vaping as bad as smoking.
“Over 10 years of scientific research shows that vaping is at least 95% less harmful than combustible tobacco and has helped millions quit smoking globally. Now, Hamilton’s councillors ban the best tool Waikato smokers have to kick their deadly habit for good. It’s unbelievably poor public health policy which will sadly only deliver more smokers,” says Nancy Loucas co-director of AVCA.
Just a few weeks ago, the Kiwi Parliament passed the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Act which legalised yet heavily regulated vaping.
“So, Parliament legalises vaping in August and Hamilton City Council bans it in September! I know councillors love making policies, but this won’t do anything more to protect the kids. Vaping is now strictly regulated including the sale of flavours limited, advertising banned, and significant sanctions in place if anyone sells products to under 18-year-olds,” continued Ms Loucas.
“Banning vaping in Hamilton’s central city streets, council parks and open spaces is not going to add any value. In fact, all it does is make it harder for smokers to switch to vaping, because why would you bother when both are treated just the same?
“Vaping is why we have a record low 12.5% overall smoking rate. It has been incredibly effective in getting smokers in the likes of Waikato off the death sticks. By now penalising vapers, you’re penalising the very thing that keeps thousands of locals off cigarettes.
“It’s like banning fast-food chains because they’re bad for you, then banning weight loss centres because they remind you of the fast-food chains. It makes absolutely no sense and is deeply disappointing for Waikato’s ex-smokers turned vapers.”
Jonathan Devery, co-owner of Vapo and Alt New Zealand, the largest Kiwi-owned vape company in the country, agreed with Ms Loucas’ take on things: “For the past 18 months Hamilton has been put up in lights as a progressive and smart city when it came to protecting its community from the dangers of tobacco all while enabling ex-smokers to publicly use a considerably less harmful alternative without being stigmatised.
“Sadly, that progress is now all in the rubbish bin. The Hamilton City Council’s latest amends to its Smokefree Outdoor Areas Policy at today’s Community Committee meeting was supposedly because of ‘new information’ coming to light. However, it didn’t offer anything substantial, let alone new.”
Despite Public Health England repeatedly highlighting there is no second-hand danger to bystanders associated with vaping, and a recent study in the country demonstrating no youth vaping epidemic, Hamilton’s officials have acted in a cowardly and ignorant manner.
The vape company did take time out to praise the New Zealand Labour party’s policy on plastics as a step in the right direction. While this is a positive move, it added that cigarette butt pollution remains the worst offender with their manufacturers yet to be held accountable.
Vapo and Alt New Zealand’s Ben Prior commented: “Good on Labour for taking positive action to remove plastic rubbish from our oceans and environment by phasing out single use and hard to recycle plastics, while creating a fund for businesses to develop alternatives.”
However, Mr Pryor and fellow co-owner Jonathan Devery, believe more attention needs to be paid to eliminating cigarette butts after a national litter audit last year found that over 10 billion cigarette butts pollute New Zealand’s ecosystem.
They’ve launched a first-of-its-kind recycling programme where New Zealanders who vape can now responsibly dispose of their e-cigarette waste in two ways: Dropping their devices and pods off at a Vapo store; or sending e-cigarette waste through the post.
“Not only is vaping much safer than smoking, our products are now also much more environmentally friendlier. We don’t want to be negligent like the tobacco industry. Instead, we’re committed to doing our bit for the environment, and the likes of this latest policy and fund will see other businesses taking steps to save our oceans and environment,” says Mr Devery.
Vapo and Alt New Zealand, has partnered with global recycling pioneers, TerraCycle, to offer the first programme of its kind to recycle vaping devices and pods.
To recycle from home, participants simply sign up to the programme at www.terracyle.com, collect their waste in any available cardboard box (up to four batteries per shipment), print off a free shipping label then drop it off at their nearest post office.
“E-cigarette waste is particularly difficult to recycle due to the complexity of separating out the different materials. However, we approached TerraCycle for an innovative solution. In the end, we’ve developed a unique recycling programme and process which could potentially save millions of pods, e-waste and batteries from ending up in New Zealand’s environment,” says Mr Pryor.
For every kilogramme of vaping equipment sent to TerraCycle, Vapo and Alt donates $1 towards the charity Sustainable Coastlines – which works to keep New Zealand’s coastlines beautiful.
“Labour announced its policy to phase out single-use plastics and reduce waste overall at Sustainable Coastlines’ headquarters in Auckland which is a great charity we’re delighted to support.
“However, one key finding from the Keep New Zealand Beautiful 2019 national litter audit remains unaddressed. Alarmingly there remain 2,000 cigarette butts for every Kiwi polluting our environment. It’s time Big Tobacco were held accountable and dug deep into their pockets,” added Mr Devery.