Sunday, July 25, 2021
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Attacks On Vaping, Politically Timed


Alarmist media stories on vaping are politically timed to
inflict the most damage on a practice that’s saving
thousands of New Zealanders’ lives, claims a leading
Tobacco Harm Reduction advocate.

Her comments follow a
frontpage nationwide newspaper story, headlined ‘Vaping –
at 10’.

“Why
don’t we see ‘Smoking – at 10’, ‘Drinking – at
10’, ‘Drugs – at 10’ media stories? It’s all about
vaping, which is ironic given it’s the least harmful,”
says Nancy Loucas, co-director of Aotearoa Vapers Community
Advocacy (AVCA).

AVCA believes the publication of
increasingly negative vaping stories is no
accident.

“Just when Cabinet is about to approve the
Ministry of Health’s latest vaping regulations and
finalise Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall’s smokefree action
plan, out come the attacks on vaping. Given vaping is New
Zealand’s most effective smoking cessation tool, some
balance in the debate is well and truly overdue,” says Ms
Loucas.

She
says while reported youth vaping anecdotes are deeply
concerning and unacceptable, they’re not supported by any
significant empirical evidence to date.

What’s more,
last year’s Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products
(Vaping) Amendment Act axed all vaping advertising and made
youth access much harder, as well as ensures tougher
regulations around packaging, promotions, and
displays.

Flavour restrictions for general retailers
will also come into effect in August – a move which AVCA
strongly disagrees with, believing it will only make it
harder for adult smokers to successful quit deadly
combustible cigarettes.

“After examining a survey of
over 27,000 secondary school students, University of
Auckland researchers last year found that only 0.8% of 14
and 15-year-olds, who had never smoked, were regular vapers.
Researchers subsequently confirmed there was no youth vaping
epidemic in New Zealand,” she says.

Given that
vaping over the past decade has been key to reducing New
Zealand’s overall smoking rate to a record low, AVCA was
disappointed the Government’s recent Smokefree Aotearoa
2025 Action Plan discussion document largely overlooked
vaping as a key component to achieving
smokefree.

“Vaping has saved thousands of ex-smoking
Kiwis’ lives. It’s time for greater perspective. It’s
also time for the Government to fully roll out its agreed
Vape to QuitStrong campaign and perhaps a specialised,
balanced education programme for schools – both would help
dispel the lies some continue to espouse.

“The
Government also needs to get really tough at point of sale.
If any retailer breaks the law and sells vaping products to
minors under 18, the book must be seriously thrown at
them,” says Nancy Loucas.

AVCA says balanced stories
about vaping would see the media approach the likes of ASH,
Hapai te Hauora, and the NZ College of Physicians on their
experiences and views on vaping’s critical role in
achieving smokefree.

“It’s easy to get emotional,
but let’s stay focused on the evidence,” she
says.

For example, Public Health England, in its 2018
independent evidence review, concluded that ‘e-cigarettes
are around 95% safer than combustible
cigarettes.’

“New Zealand’s 200,000 vapers just
want a fair go. All that alarmist media stories do is
ostracise the many ex-smokers who’ve successful quit
cigarettes via vaping,” says Nancy Loucas.

About
AVCA

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.

www.avca.org.nz

© Scoop Media

 



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