“A huge opportunity has been missed to make risk-reduced vaping products more accessible to smokers in order to reach the SmokeFree 2025 goal set by government,” says Nancy Loucas, Director of the Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy (AVCA).
Her comments follow Parliament’s Health Select Committee tabling its report on the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Bill.
“It is unfathomable that the select committee was so blinded by the emotive rhetoric about perceptions of youth vaping, that they refused to acknowledge the actual facts and statistics relative to New Zealand and youth smoking and vaping rates,” she says.
Ms Loucas says many vapers have reacted with huge disappointment on AVCA’s forum and social media.
“They can’t believe the disconnect between their experiences of switching to vaping and the recommendations in the report. For many living in the likes of rural areas, the wide availability of flavours via general and online-only retailers has been key to them getting off smokes. Others are in disbelief over the lack of consideration of statistics proving there is no youth epidemic here in New Zealand,” says Ms Loucas.
AVCA says if the Government is truly concerned about ‘the children’ they need to think in much broader terms such as the social and health harms of adult smoking.
“In our Maori communities, we have multi-generational financial and social harm from tobacco use – exacerbated by tobacco control policies such as ‘quit or die’ and exorbitant tobacco taxes.”
She says the literature is clear on the influence that parents and caregivers who smoke have on their kids. A young person, for example, who lives with a parent who smokes is 80% to 90% more likely to become a regular smoker as an adult.
“These vaping regulations, as they remain, represent a missed opportunity. They fail to give Kiwi smokers as many options as possible to get off the death sticks. They also fail whanau and tamariki to be free from the harm of combustible tobacco so they can have their koros and kuias around for the long haul,” says Nancy Loucas.
With the Government ruling that general and online-only retailers can only sell three vape flavours, AVCA believes successful legislation would see vape flavours, access and availability countrywide, not just in the bigger towns and cities with brick and mortar specialist vape shops.
AVCA was formed in 2016 by vapers across New Zealand wanting their voices heard in local and central government. All members are former smokers who promote vaping to help smokers quit – a much less harmful alternative to combustible tobacco products. AVCA does not have any affiliation or vested interest in industry – tobacco, pharmaceutical and/or the local vaping manufacturing or retail sectors.
AVCA’s petition to Parliament requesting ‘That the House of Representatives debate the Government’s proposal to limit flavoured nicotine e-liquids to mint, menthol and tobacco’ was signed by 17,357 people before it closed on 31 March, yet still awaits Parliament’s response: https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/petitions/document/PET_91278/petition-of-nancy-loucas-sutthoff-for-aotearoa-vapers-community