Vapers Deserve To Be Heard, Not Disenfranchised
Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy (AVCA) is deeply concerned about the Government’s truncated consultation process adopted for the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Bill.
Parliament’s decision yesterday to shorten the standard parliamentary process from six months to three leaves people less than three weeks to make public submissions to the Health Select Committee reviewing the bill.
“AVCA and vapers around the country are now deeply concerned that with a shortened consultation period the select committee will mostly hear from groups vehemently opposed to vaping,” said AVCA Director, Nancy Loucas.
She believes the three week public submission period will allow for groups invested in misinformation campaigns and scare tactics to put forward their case at the expense of vapers whose lives have been changed for the better as vaping helped them quit smoking.
“We are concerned that groups and associations hell-bent on spreading falsehoods, like there is a youth vaping epidemic in New Zealand, will smother the select committee with submissions and frighten MPs into a knee-jerk reaction to recommend stricter laws than what is already being proposed.”
Ms Loucas says despite organisations like the Principals’ Association, Cancer Society and Asthma and Respiratory Foundation claiming a youth vaping epidemic, a recent study by Action on Smoking and Health NZ (ASH) found only 0.8 per cent of students aged 14 and 15 who'd never smoked, vaped daily.
The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation has been under fire for its ‘Don’t Get Sucked In’ campaign for driving curiosity about vaping to teenagers and for their continued conflation of the facts with scare tactics.
“Vapers deserve to have their stories about how these products have saved their lives heard, and their experiences should not be dismissed. However, if certain groups dominate the select committee we could see worse public health outcomes due to this poor process,” said Ms Loucas.
“The regulations for this bill must be considered carefully so that smokers and vapers can easily access these life-saving products. People’s lives are at stake and should not be used as a political football in an election year, especially in light of the previous concerns around the regulations and the Bill of Rights as reported by the Attorney-General.
“Shortening the submission period could be seen as a means to further silence and disenfranchise vapers from their right to participate in what should be a democratic process,” says Nancy Loucas.
AVCA was formed in April 2016 by vapers from across New Zealand who were concerned about having their voices heard by those in local and national government. All members are former smokers who have been and continue to promote vaping as a means to helping smokers quit by using a less harmful alternative to using combustible tobacco products.