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Commentary on Jenny Salesas statement on flavour restriction

Smoking kills 5,000 Kiwis each year, so any government policies to help reduce smoking are a good thing. However, the current approaches are not working nor will the proposed limit on flavoured e-liquid that Associate Minister Salesa announced on the news last night in a direct u turn on the planned risk proportionate legislation.

Punitive actions and restrictions don’t work. Most smokers want to quit already, but find it hard, especially as pharmaceutical medicines such as patches and gums are not as effective as using e-cigarettes with flavoured nicotine e liquid with or without the nicotine patch. Even the University of Auckland announced that in results of a study they did that were published in the Lancet recently.

Most vapers would tell you that when they finally were able to make the final switch, it was with a fruit or dessert flavour, not a tobacco, menthol or mint flavour. In other words, they were not replicating smoking with vaping and looking for the taste of a cigarette. And that is precisely why limiting e liquid flavours to those cigarette flavours is a step in the wrong direction if we want adult smokers to get off combustibles.

We understand that this restriction is a response to the “youth epidemic” of vaping in the United States. But that is not occurring here in NZ, nor has it occurred in the UK. We have our own statistics to prove it here.

We also understand the government is having a reaction to the headlines out of the United States around the respiratory illnesses and deaths that are being attributed to “vaping” without actually detailing that it was the use of illegal unregulated products. Again, this is not an issue in NZ and has not been an issue in the UK. No one in the UK, where the highest percentage of vapers actually are, and where vaping is now utilised as a cessation protocol, has died from vaping regulated nicotine e liquid.

Public health is about the health of the public, so it is more than time to actually listen to them, as well as the experts who understand tobacco harm reduction and how vaping has effectively stamped out the rise in smoking in countries where it is regulated proportionate to the risks.

To see the NZ Government cave to political pressure from overseas is a sad commentary on how politics outweighs the greater good. Policies such as bans will only *increase* the chances of New Zealanders being harmed by illegal products. That was the entire reason for regulation, that the consumers wanted and fought for, in the first place.

The MPs with responsibility for tobacco control would not know that as they have not spoken to any of the actual vapers at length. In fact, MP Salesa has blocked all consumer advocates in NZ and abroad and did so within a week of her appointment. A couple of weeks ago MP Clark intimated that all consumer advocates were tobacco company mouthpieces. Bollocks to that. But they wouldn’t know as they haven’t engaged and don’t seem to want to.

We are better than this. We have to be better if we are going to reach the kaupapa of SmokeFree 2025.


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