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CAPHRA Champions Trailblazing Approach To Slash Smoking Rates Globally

The Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (CAPHRA) today urges global leaders to adopt New Zealand's successful tobacco harm reduction model, contrasting New Zealand's progressive strategies with Australia's increasingly restrictive measures.

“New Zealand leads in innovative tobacco harm reduction, notably through legalising and regulating vaping products. This approach has driven the country's smoking rates down to a historic low of 8%, with a significant decline among the youth,” said Nancy Loucas, a prominent New Zealand public health consumer advocate and executive coordinator of CAPHRA.

In a similar vein, the Philippines is making strides in tobacco harm reduction, with the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) actively working on regulating vape products, including disposables. This move comes in response to challenges such as tax evasion by manufacturers and import issues, demonstrating the government's commitment to fair and proper regulation. "Right now, our DTI is really working on regulating vape products... I'm really all for proper and fair regulation," shared Clarissa Virgino, a leading tobacco harm reduction expert from the Philippines.

“These examples highlight the success of integrating less harmful nicotine products like vaping into broader tobacco control strategies,” said Nancy Loucas.

In contrast, the situation in Australia has become increasingly volatile due to restrictive tobacco control policies. Recent events in Melbourne have underscored the severity of the situation, where multiple tobacco shops were targeted in suspected arson attacks. These incidents are believed to be part of a broader "tobacco war," driven by the black market that has flourished under Australia's stringent tobacco regulations.

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“This escalation of violence highlights the unintended consequences of restrictive tobacco policies, which not only fail to reduce smoking rates but also foster criminal activities,” said Nancy Loucas.

The Australian government's cautious stance on harm reduction now contrasts sharply with New Zealand's proactive policies and the emerging efforts in the Philippines, both of which have proven effective in reducing smoking prevalence and enhancing public health.

CAPHRA is calling on governments to recognise the benefits of harm reduction and the importance of consumer choice.

“Learning from New Zealand's example and observing the dire consequences of Australia's restrictive policies could boost global public health and effectively tackle the challenges of tobacco use,” with Nancy Loucas emphasising the need for supportive policies that aid smokers in transitioning to safer alternatives, rather than restrictive measures that limit access and provoke criminal activities.

Nancy Loucas stated, "New Zealand's success in reducing smoking through innovative harm reduction products like vaping is a clear testament to the power of progressive policies that respect individual choices and promote public health."

She added, "Other nations must take note of tobacco harm reduction successes in countries like New Zealand and the Philippines and consider similar approaches to combat the global tobacco epidemic. We must let evidence and openness to innovation guide public health policies, not dogma."

CAPHRA is ready to help countries develop and implement policies that prioritise public health and harm reduction. By promoting the use of less harmful nicotine products, governments can significantly reduce tobacco-related diseases and deaths.

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