Sunday, May 9, 2021
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HomePoliticalSmokefree Action Plan Must Elevate Vaping As A Safe Switch

Smokefree Action Plan Must Elevate Vaping As A Safe Switch


A leading vaping advocate has joined mounting pressure on
the Government to take all the necessary steps available to
achieve the country’s decade-old smokefree
ambition.

This comes as Associate Health Minster Dr
Ayesha Verrall prepares to release a discussion document on
a draft action plan to meet the Smokefree 2025
targets.

While the Cancer Society recently launched a
petition to drastically reduce the number of tobacco
stockists, the Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy (AVCA) is
now calling on the Government to urgently rethink its
approach to regulating vaping.

From 11 August, it’s
proposed that all but three vape flavours – mint, menthol,
and tobacco – will be removed from general retailers such as
supermarkets, service stations and convenience
stores.

The Ministry of Health is currently reviewing
submissions on its draft vaping regulations. However, that
work must dovetail with the country’s smokefree action
plan, says Nancy Loucas, co-director of Aotearoa Vapers
Community Advocacy (AVCA).

“Finalising the vaping
regulations and the smokefree action plan must not been done
in silos. The two are intrinsically linked, with vaping an
effective tool towards Aotearoa achieving the smokefree
goal. It should be regulated proportionately.

“As
the most effective smoking cessation tool in history, vaping
has been key to reducing our national smoking rate in the
past decade. Going forward, encouraging smokers to switch to
much safer and less expensive vaping products is absolutely
critical to achieving smokefree,” says Ms
Loucas.

The tobacco harm reduction advocate realises
that achieving Smokefree 2025 is now unlikely, however all
is not lost with the Associate Health Minister elevating it
as a priority workstream since her appointment late last
year.

“Dr Verrall is a public health expert and a
strong proponent to getting Smokfree 2025 back on track. She
knows it will require some drastic measures and has the
knowledge and determination to make this 2011 goal finally
happen,” says Ms Loucas.

AVCA believes the imminent
discussion paper on a draft plan to meet New Zealand’s
Smokefree 2025 aspirations needs to focus on access around
both tobacco and vaping.

“It makes sense to reduce
the availability of tobacco products, but it makes no sense
to reduce the availability of vaping products. The current
plan to only allow specialist, registered vape stores to
sell a wide range of popular adult flavours is
bonkers.

“If we want to avoid Kiwis returning to
cigarettes then the Government’s plan to limit vape
flavours needs to be purged before it comes into play. We
expect this contentious issue, and ways to
ensure more smokers can successfully switch to vaping, will
feature as distinct discussion areas in the Government’s
paper out soon,” she says.

AVCA also hopes everyone
involved in tobacco harm reduction in New Zealand will be
actively called upon and listened to in the shaping of the
smokefree action plan.

“To achieve smokefree all the
right incentives and interventions will need to be rolled
out. If we don’t take big steps, then New Zealand won’t
be smokefree for nearly two more decades and Maori won’t
be for another four decades. So, it’s now or never,” she
says.

Nancy Loucas says if the smokefree discussion
paper doesn’t adequately deal with the Government’s
vaping strategy and regulations, then ministers should.
Cabinet will be asked to approve the Ministry of Health’s
finalised vaping regulations by the end of
June.

“2021 is arguably the most critical year from
Smokefree 2025. We have hugely consequential vaping
regulations being finalised and a smokefree action plan
being formulated. Commanding an absolute majority, this
Government can be bold. We now wait with bated breath,”
she says.

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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