Two years on from New Zealand passing landmark vaping legislation, Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) advocates say it remains fit-for-purpose, but enforcement of any wayward retailers remains lacking.
“New Zealand’s legislation and regulations are by no means perfect, but they continue to serve as a model for other countries keen to combat tobacco. Now is not the time to throw the baby out with the bathwater,” says Nancy Loucas, co-founder of Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy (AVCA).
Her comments come nearly two years after the 11 November 2020 commencement of the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Act 2020.
The act aims to strike a balance between ensuring vaping products are available for smokers who want to switch to a less harmful alternative and ensuring these products aren’t marketed or sold to young people.
Ms Loucas says while various industry regulations continue to be rolled out across New Zealand, the provisions that took immediate effect two years ago have had a positive impact.
From 11 November 2020 vaping was prohibited in the likes of workplaces, schools, early childhood education and care centres. Also prohibited was the sale of vaping products to under-18s, and all advertising and sponsorship relating to vaping products.
“If youth vaping is a problem, the solution is not changing the law, as it’s already more than adequate. Solutions lie with parental responsibility and greater enforcement by the regulator. Heavy sanctions can be applied to those caught selling to minors. Any rogue retailers now need to face the consequences, as they’re making good legislation look bad,” says Ms Loucas.
Headlining ‘vaping is less harmful than smoking’ the Ministry of Health’s vaping facts website is also a world leader, says AVCA.
“New Zealand is playing it straight with the public and subsequently it is on track to achieve Smokefree 2025 – where five percent or fewer smoke. In contrast, Australia’s retail ban of safer nicotine products and its publicly funded scaremongering, has ensured its smoking rate has barely budged in recent years,” she says.
With the aim to further limit the appeal and access of deadly tobacco, parliament’s health select committee is due to report back on the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Smoked Tobacco) Amendment Bill by 1 December.
Ms Loucas says now’s the time to hit tobacco hard, not re-litigate the vaping rules and regulations that parliament and health leaders so heavily debated and scrutinised.
“Governments, politicians, and officials from all around the world continue to study what New Zealand has done to halve its smoking rate and put smokefree in its sights. Staying the course with its THR approach is how New Zealand will crush tobacco and save thousands of lives every year,” says Nancy Loucas.
The Fifth Asia Harm Reduction Forum will take place on Friday, 28 October in the Philippines. The sessions will be streamed live on the AHRF YouTube channel at bit.ly/ahrf2022 and Facebook at fb.com/ahrf2022. For further information, or to register for free, visit: http://www.asiaharmreductionforum.online/