News Video | Policy | GPs | Hospitals | Medical | Mental Health | Welfare | Search

 

Is NZ Ready for Consumer-Driven Quit Smoking Programmes?

Is New Zealand Ready for Consumer-Driven Quit Smoking Programmes?

By Marewa Glover

Trying to get people to stop smoking has been a public health priority in New Zealand for 30 years.

We’ve harangued, shamed, stigmatised, pleaded with and incentivised smokers to quit. We’ve used taxes, banned smoking in most public indoor places, canned advertising and printed enough smokefree branded clothing to dress everyone on Tuvalu.

New Zealand’s once world-leading tobacco control programme has succeeded at bringing adult smoking prevalence down to 18%. Smoking among Māori adults has reduced — but at a slower rate to 39%.

But now we have a situation where half of young 18 to 28 year old smokers in a recent survey by the Health Promotion Agency said they wanted to use electronic cigarettes — or vaping — for their next quit attempt.

The Ministry of Health, and many of its funded health providers are taking what they call a precautionary approach. But is this the right approach?

At this year’s Global Forum on Nicotine in Warsaw, delegates were alarmingly told that a fraud is being perpetrated on the public in several nations.

The World Health Organisation, Governments like the European Union, Singapore, and even our closest neighbor Australia, are spreading false and negative information about vaping — describing it as being as or more dangerous than smoking.

They are imposing draconian, non-evidence-based bans and restrictive laws and taxes to stop smokers switching to vaping, to stop further evolution of vaping products and to even outright ban the sale of the hardware and the e-liquids in addition to the often already banned nicotine.

Thankfully in New Zealand we haven’t acted with such reactionary hysteria, although the threat of this happening remains real. Sure, it’s inconvenient to have to buy the nicotine for vaping online from overseas, as our current law bans the import and sale of nicotine for non-therapeutic use.

There are now more than 2.6 million smokers who have switched to vaping in the UK, over 2 million in Germany and over 3 million in the USA. New nicotine delivery products stripped of the tar, gases and other toxins are now a multi-billion dollar industry in the UK, USA, China, Japan and Turkey.

The industry is not dominated by tobacco companies who are scrambling to join the e-cig market. More telling is that the exodus of smokers to vaping is consumer-driven. Long-term heavy smokers have found their health transformed and they’re turning to help others.

There are now more ex-smoking vapers helping smokers to quit than there are paid smoking cessation practitioners. Meanwhile, Government-paid smoking cessation workers peddle their patches and gum, sprays and meds, and insist upon smokers attending group therapy.

If the Government and public health advocates stuck to a precautionary approach we could almost forgive them, but the market is changing at such a rapid rate that there is a real risk the Government and advocates get trapped in the past and become blinkered to the future.

It annoys me that the disparity between Māori and Pākehā smoking rates will widen since Māori will be less likely to access nicotine via the internet – the predominant medium for accessing these new products.

But, at least we still have time to debate the role of nicotine in our society. Are we really going to get all puritanical about people using nicotine if it’s in a form that is no more harmful than their coffee addiction?

Didn’t we do all this smokefree campaigning to reduce disease and early deaths?
Perhaps it’s time for public health to stand aside and let smokers help themselves now that there is something better than smoking that they can switch to.

Associate Professor Marewa Glover is a leading researcher in the Research Centre for Māori Health & Development at Massey University’s College of Health, with long-standing experience in the tobacco control research and cessation programme design. In June she spoke at the 2nd Global Forum on Nicotine in Warsaw.


ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 

Howard Davis: Dryzabone - Robert Conolly's The Dry

After the terrible devastation caused by last year’s bushfires, which prompted hundreds of Australians to shelter in the ocean to escape incineration and destroyed uncountable amounts of wildlife, The Dry has been released during a totally different kind of dry spell. More>>


Howard Davis: Benjamin Ree's The Painter and The Thief

The Norwegian filmmaker had long been fascinated by art thieves who commit high-stakes crimes with a delicate touch when a chance Google search in 2015 uncovered a botched heist in Oslo. More>>


Howard Davis: Anna Coddington Beams

Anna Coddington's thin, wispy vocals fit her songs beautifully, providing a wonderful lilting quality that pervades her latest album, producing instant ear worms. More>>


Howard Davis: Hit the Road, Jack - Chloé Zhao's Nomadland

Nomadland is perhaps the ultimately 'road' movie as it follows a group of dispossessed and disenfranchised vagabonds who find a form of communal refuge in camp sites and trailer parks after the economic contraction of 2008. More>>

Howard Davis: Byrneing Down the House - Spike Lee's American Utopia

Lee does an admirable job capturing Byrne's stunning live performance of his latest album, but the real star of the show is the staging. More>>


Howard Davis: The Phoenix Foundation Friend Ship Tour Docks in Wellington

A sense of local pride was certainly running high at the Opera House on Saturday night, as the lads ran through a tasty little set drawn mostly from their latest album Friend Ship (splash out for Xmas on the shocking pink extra-thick vinyl edition). More>>


Howard Davis: Avantdale Bowling Club

Auckland rapper and MC Tom Scott brought his stunning jazz-infused Taite Music Prize-winning project Avantdale Bowling Club to the Opera House headlining Wellington's 2020 Jazz Festival. More>>

Howard Davis: Troy Kingi Rules The San Fran

The award-winning Northland musician performed songs from his new record The Ghost of Freddie Cesar, the fourth installment in his 10/10/10 series - ten albums in ten years in ten genres. More>>

 
 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • CULTURE
  • HEALTH
  • EDUCATION
 
 
  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland