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AVCA Addresses ARFNZ

AVCA Addresses ARFNZ - Part Two.

Jan Walsh, Trustee


16 December 2017

The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation of New Zealand (ARFNZ) has been intensely lobbying the new Government to back track on the Ministry of Health’s plan to develop sensible regulation of Electronic Liquid Vapourisers (ELV’s).

Nancy Sutthoff co-director of Aotearoa Vapers’ Community Advocacy (AVCA) stated “ARFNZ needs to consider the science rather than taking a moralistic approach. It's almost like they want to punish people who stop smoking the ‘wrong’ way." Steve Dohmen, co-director of AVCA states clearly " It's time for the ARFNZ to deviate away from junk science and toward expertise from real lung specialists, unless they wish to continue in being part of the problem of smoking prevalence in Maori, or help them in gaining access to an effective alternative."

Recently, Dr Riccardo Polosa gave presentations in New Zealand. Some of the research he presented showed objectively measured harm reversal in asthmatic smokers who switch to vaping. We would have thought that ARFNZ would welcome this technology which could greatly assist some of ARFNZ’s client base.

ARFNZ claim there is good evidence of a gateway effect whereby youth start vaping and then progress to smoking. However, Public Health England have recently stated “British youth experiment with e-cigs but regular use is rare and very largely confined to young people who have smoked. There is some evidence that young people who have vaped but never smoked are more likely subsequently to smoke but there is no evidence that this relationship is causal. The UK has good data on this issue from surveys and we continue to scrutinise these data closely.”

According to a recent submission from Robert J West and Dr. Lion Shahib in the UK "Our view differs from those who propose that e-cigarettes are acting as a ‘gateway’ to smoking because, despite claims to the contrary, the studies being cited have not adequately accounted for the fact that young people who try e-cigarettes are the kind of young people who will also be likely to try conventional cigarettes. If there really were a gateway effect on a large scale we should be seeing a slow-down in the rate of decline in smoking uptake and we are not." Combustible tobacco smoking has DECREASED enormously in both countries since the introduction of e-cigarettes.

ARFNZ also expressed concern at the makeup of the Technical Expert Advisory Group that was set up by the Ministry of Health to provide advice on the technical aspects of the development of a regulatory scheme, implying the group was some kind of industry ploy. However, ARFNZ seems to ignore the fact that the majority of the group consists of stop smoking advisors, public health researchers, doctors, and even includes the Director of the Wellington Asthma Research Group based in the Department of Medicine at the University of Otago, Wellington.

ARFNZ are calling on the Government to effectively medicalise ELV’s. Steve Dohmen AVCA co-director stated “We know what works for smokers who want to switch to vaping. Smokers don't believe they are ‘sick’ and in need of a medical product. Vaping works because it is a customisable consumer product. Whilst it is true that there are no very long term studies on the safety of vaping we know enough that we can say the long term effects are not going to be anywhere near that of smoking. It amazes me that people say things like it took a long time for the risks of smoking to be found, implying that the same will happen with vaping. This is pure conjecture, our technology has improved massively since the 1950’s so the timeframes can't be compared. No other product, consumer or pharmaceutical, is delayed to market due to having to undergo 20 year long studies. Meanwhile, our whanau are loosing their lives to deadly cigarettes when a much, much safer alternative may be denied due to fanaticised fears which have no basis in the evidence.”

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