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Council vaping bans misguided

Calls are getting louder for Wellington City Council’s City Strategy Committee to leave vaping out of its Smokefree Action Plan when it decides tomorrow – Thursday 7 March.

New Zealand’s largest vaping business has joined public health organisation Hapai Te Hauora concerned over vaping being included in the capital’s smokefree outdoor areas and beaches, believing instead that vaping is key to the country achieving Smoke Free 2025.

What’s more, next week the Hamilton City Council will vote on their city’s Smokefree And Vapefree Outdoor Areas Policy and Smokefree Plan. The full council vote on 14 March follows a recent committee endorsement for vaping to also be included in Hamilton’s plan.

“The best thing Wellington and Hamilton City councillors could do to advance Smoke Free 2025 is not include vaping in their banned outdoor areas. They’d be better to stay focused on fighting smoking while encouraging the likes of better vaping etiquette in public,” says Kiwi vaping entrepreneur Jonathan Devery.

The co-owner of New Zealand-owned vaping and e-cigarette companies, VAPO and Alt, says banning vaping from the likes of streets, parks and beaches won’t improve one person’s health nor will it stop anyone from smoking.

“We’re seeing these council vaping bans coming into force up and down the country, but they’re completely misguided. It’s clear that some councillors still confuse smoking with vaping. Subsequently they’re demonising the most effective tool there is for smokers to give up cigarettes,” says Mr Devery.

He says regional, city and district councils keen to tighten up their smokefree policies need to base their decision-making on evidence not emotion.

“Unbelievably one Hamilton City councillor has already said that ‘vaping looks terrible, irrespective of the health benefits and I will not endorse it’! However, others were right to remind their colleagues that vaping is an effective way to quit smoking. Let’s hope they prevail in the final vote.”

The chairman of Action for Smokefree (ASH) 2025, Emeritus Professor Robert Beaglehole has also waded into the Hamilton proposal, saying the planned vaping ban will cause more harm than good.

"To support a ban on vaping because of appearance is a dangerous precedent. Not only does it deny Hamilton's smokers freedom to use much safer alternates, but it also shows little regard for evidence-based public policy," said Prof Beaglehole to a local newspaper last week.

Mr Devery says there’s ample international evidence that shows vaping is at least 95% less harmful than cigarettes. While Public Health England research last year concluded ‘there have been no identified health risks of passive vaping to by-standers’.

What’s more in January the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine published research that showed vaping and e-cigarettes are nearly twice as effective for those wanting to give up smoking than nicotine-replacement products.

“Switching from smoking to vaping has substantial health benefits and is key to Smoke Free 2025 – something the Associate Health Minister, Ministry of Health, health pressure group ASH, Quitline New Zealand, and Hapai Te Hauora all openly acknowledge.

“Having councils effectively treating vaping the same as smoking only sends confusing messages about its health advantages and provides no incentive for smokers to quit. If councils want to really want to contribute to Smoke Free 2025 they need to stop shunning a practice that gives New Zealand its best chance of being tobacco free.

“We call on Wellington and Hamilton City councillors to show others in local government a much smarter way to help reduce the country’s smoking rates,” says Jonathan Devery.

© Scoop Media

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