“New Zealand’s Asthma and Respiratory Foundation (ARFNZ) is once again making health claims without providing any evidence. If they want their warnings to be taking seriously, they need to provide some proof,” says Nancy Loucas, co-founder of AVCA (Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy).
Her comments follow ARFNZ urging Kiwis to stay vape-free to protect their lung health and avoid Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). World COPD Day is on 16 November.
AVCA says ARFNZ should read the internationally published medical studies by Professor Riccardo Polosa. He is an award winning and renowned expert in respiratory health and Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR).
Professor Polosa’s work comprehensively proves that patients suffering from serious COPD, who had completely switched from cigarettes to e-cigarettes, reported improved respiratory symptoms. Another review conducted by Professor Polosa concluded that vaping is much less damaging to the lungs than smoking.
“Vaping is not perfect but it’s considerably less harmful than smoking. Instead of backing up the Ministry of Health’s use of vaping as an effective smoking cessation tool, ARFNZ continues to create hysteria that doesn’t exist. If ARFNZ wants New Zealand to achieve Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 then it needs to acknowledge vaping’s role rather than scare smokers desperate to quit,” says Ms Loucas.
She says New Zealand has adopted a THR strategy that’s working, with the country’s overall smoking rate at a record low. With the Government’s renewed focus on Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 – where five percent of fewer smoke – smokefree is now a real possibility.
“ARFNZ is doing its best to spook our remaining smokers from switching to a considerably safer option. They fail to point out that not one New Zealander has reportedly died from vaping, nor do they ever mention that Public Health England remains resolute that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking combustible cigarettes.
Ms Loucas says if vapers or their families and friends want credible advice, they should visit the Ministry of Health’s site www.vapingfacts.health.nz/
The Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Smoked Tobacco) Amendment Bill is set to be reported back from the Health Select Committee by 1 December.
AVCA believes ARFNZ is doing its best to try to relitigate the country’s vaping legislation which was well covered in 2020. Meanwhile, smoking-related illnesses continue to kill about 5,000 Kiwis every year.
“There’s a bill progressing through Parliament which will hit cigarettes where it hurts, limiting their access and appeal. That should be ARFNZ’s focus. Instead, they continue to undermine the Government and Ministry of Health’s position on vaping and stir up consumer confusion,” she says.
AVCA says ARFNZ are not alone with their mis-information campaign. The World Health Organisation (WHO) continues to claim there is growing evidence that e-cigarettes cause lung injuries. However, a recently released white paper compiled by international THR experts concluded that such a claim was a ‘shameful and outright falsehood’.
Titled ‘The Subversion of Public Health: Consumer Perspectives’, the white paper was presented by Ms Loucas at the recent Fifth Asia Harm Reduction Forum (AHRF 2022). To read it visit: https://caphraorg.net/wp-content/uploads/pdfs/white-paper-subversion_of_public_health.pdf
“ARFNZ should get on board with the country’s decade long smokefree ambition and its successful THR strategy. If it can’t bring itself to accept the science and the many positive case studies of ex-smokers, then it should at least stay silent,” says Nancy Loucas.