Media attacks on vaping suit those who’ve got most to gain – foreign-owned Big Tobacco companies,” says Jonathan Devery – co-owner of the largest Kiwi-owned vape companies, Alt New Zealand and VAPO.
Mr Devery’s comments follow an avalanche of negative media stories on vaping lately.
“Vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking yet it’s getting 95% of the negative coverage. For those of us dedicated to Smokefree Aotearoa, we’re just asking for some objectiveness. Let’s not lose sight that smoking kills 5,000 Kiwis a year, and nicotine vaping has reportedly killed no one worldwide. In fact, it has saved thousands of Kiwis from an early death,” he says.
Both ex-smokers, Mr Devery and fellow business partner Ben Pryor say demonising vaping only hinders the country’s smokefree ambition.
Instead, the Kiwi vape entrepreneurs say the media should be more focused on the Government delivering an achievable Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Action Plan.
“Rather than badmouthing vaping, we should be ensuring the world’s most effective smoking cessation tool is being used to society’s advantage. Vaping needs to be elevated, not supressed, in the action plan if we are to beat the scourge of tobacco hitting our most vulnerable communities,” says Mr Devery.
Alt New Zealand and VAPO were long supportive of the Government legislating vaping, sanctioning it as an R18 activity, and delivering product safety standards. However, as it stands, in New Zealand, vaping is now more regulated, licensed, and controlled than tobacco.
Alarmingly, cigarettes will soon be more readily available than popular vape flavours. From 11 August, general retailers such as supermarkets, service stations, and dairies can only stock menthol, mint, and tobacco vape flavours.
“Instead of making vaping less available for those desperate to quit smoking, the Government needs to urgently make tobacco less available. However, for that to work there needs be a safer and less expensive alternative on hand for adults – and that is vaping,” he says.
Jonathan Devery says to achieve Smokefree Aotearoa, New Zealand needs to keep its eyes firmly on the real enemy – tobacco. At the same time, the Government needs to get tough on any retailers caught selling vaping products to minors.