A friend, not a foe
Verrall’s recently released action plan document showcases the vast measures that must be taken if NZ are to become Smokefree - meaning 5% or less smoking.
With the consultation period now underway, one key thing that is markedly absent is the concrete statement that vaping is by far and away the best smokefree tool at our disposal. It’s actually the most effective smoking cessation tool ever created.
International evidence points to vaping being far less harmful than smoking. Public Health England puts it at 95% less harmful. Evidence also concludes that, unlike smoking, there is no second-hand risk to others.
The number of New Zealand residents now smoking is at an all-time low, currently sitting around 11.6%. This has been achieved by increasing tobacco excise, and through thorough education. At current rates, smoking still kills around 12 Kiwis a day.
With around 200,000 adults now becoming regular vapers, vaping’s contribution to the lower smoking rate has also been rather significant. In a nutshell, vaping has been a very successful tool for helping get NZ residents off of smoking traditional cigarettes.
One of the major hurdles to being smokefree, however, is the penchant for some leaders in communities to treat smoking and vaping as practically the same thing. It’s a preposterous blanket statement when one has killed over 50,000 NZ residents in the past decade, while the other has not led to one reported death in New Zealand. What it has done instead, has saved tens of thousands of lives.
Some have falsely claimed that there’s a vaping epidemic in secondary schools, many anecdotes of which have unfortunately made the media. But these claims simply aren’t backed by any evidence.
The mix of anecdotes and skewing of statistics to muddle the truth is common practice. However, it doesn’t come from any sort of scientific evidence or information found on government websites.
Vaping products are strictly 18+, and if retailers are caught selling to anyone under that age, extreme penalties will be incurred. Minors also are unable to purchase online by ticking a box claiming they’re over 18.
Vaping should be a pillar to the smokefree action plan. Unfortunately it seems more and more likely that it won’t. With the current mindset to vaping in all too many countries, there’s still a large amount of stigma due to negativity in the press, even though it has saved countless lives and saved untold amounts of money.