Vaping - it's not child's play
30 May 2018
Vaping - it's not child's play. Think about the possible dangers to our young people this 'World Smoke Free Day'.
Marketing to young people to achieve NZ Smokefree 2025 is about as clear as the 'Jelly Fish' vape clouds themselves.
30 May 2018 Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ marks ‘World Smoke Free Day’ – Thursday 31 May - with a call for more clear messaging and transparency around how e-cigarettes and vaping should be promoted, sold and used in New Zealand.
Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ acknowledges that we need to support smokers who want to quit, but also calls for the need to protect the wider communities’ children and young people from taking up e-cigarettes and vaping in the first place. The Foundation supports the Ministry of Health’s intention to develop ‘risk-proportionate regulation’ that considers the whole area of smoking including e-cigarettes and the tightening of regulation on smoked tobacco products if indeed it can accelerate progress towards achieving NZ Smokefree status by 2025.
The recently released Ministry of Health May 2018 update on vaping including the ban on smoking in indoor workplaces, early childhood centres and schools only applies to tobacco smoking which is another concern highlighted by the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ. These rules do not currently apply to vaping or products that are not smoked, such as heated tobacco products. Individual employers and business owners have to decide whether or not to include vaping in their smokefree policies. The message needs to be clearer to everyone on this area, and the Foundation would encourage smoke free areas to be vape free areas also.
Letitia O’Dwyer, CEO of Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ, comments: “It’s so important we look at measures to reduce the risk of youth uptake of e-cigarettes and vaping, whilst also balancing this with the need to encourage and support smokers to quit especially as we are looking to achieve NZ Smokefree by 2025. The need to consider e-cigarettes and how they fit in with a full smoking cessation programme along with the need to continue to tighten the rules around tabacco products is long overdue and the ‘risk-proportionate regulation’ that is currently being talked about can’t come soon enough. In terms of youth, our real concern is how the current market appears to be attracting young people to take up the habit of vaping through unregulated promotional and advertising activities, yet we just don’t know how safe e-cigarettes and vaping are in the long-term.”
“In addition to this, what about the current Smoke-Free Environments Act 1990 (SFEA)? Here in Wellington we have more and more vaping shops opening up, which is a real concern. The numerous posters, retail promotional material, advertising in cinema toilet stalls and radio advertisements appear to be targeting minors which is a clear disregard of the SFEA: Until the SFEA is amended, retailers should continue to trade responsibly and, in particular, no advertising or selling of vaping products to children and young people under 18 years of age; this needs be regulated and enforced. It’s about balance, we need to get this right in terms of supporting people to give up smoking but not at the expense of our children’s respiratory health,” Letitia O’Dwyer adds.
Dr Stuart Jones, Medical Director for Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ, adds: “We aren’t against e-cigarettes and vaping but we want to see them used in an evidence based fashion with appropriate regulations to help those current smokers to quit. From a medical perspective, we really want to protect our youth from starting to smoke or vape – period. We really don’t know what e-cigarettes mean in terms of people’s long-term lung health. The way they work means the vape is effectively inhaled directly into the lungs. We can’t say for sure at this moment in time what long term damage this could be doing especially in the developing lungs of young adults and children. We don’t understand enough about the flavours, although more and more published literature is coming out on the toxicity of some of the flavours, and the chemicals used in them and we know that nicotine containing e-liquids are addictive. We simply need more research in this area so we can adequately protect our e-cigarette/vaping ‘never user’ youth from starting, and so people can make informed decisions.”
Letitia O’Dwyer, CEO of Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ, goes onto say: “We are all concerned about the health of our young people, and this brings it more to the forefront than ever before. By offering different and attractive flavours and colours such as Vampire's Blood - lemonade with raspberries and Dragon's Spit - chocolate and mint ice cream, which are obviously aimed at youth, this should give us all cause for concern. Of course we want a smoke free nation, and we fully support organisations such as Hāpai Te Hauora on achieving Smokefree Aotearoa 2025, but even they urge regulators to include health warnings and messages including relevant information for smoking cessation services; and that these products should have mandatory testing.”
“Finally, ask yourself this. If vaping and electronic cigarettes were the answer to Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 then why does the Ministry have a caveat? “At this stage, the Ministry does not have enough evidence to recommend these products confidently as a smoking cessation tool. The Ministry advises smokers to use approved smoking cessation medicines in combination with behavioural support from stop-smoking services including face-to-face providers and/or Quitline,” concludes Letitia O’Dwyer.
For further information about the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ and their position statement on e-cigarettes/vaping please visit: https://www.asthmafoundation.org.nz/about-us/advocacy/position-statement-on-e-cigarettes