Health regulators in New Zealand are eschewing misinformation on electronic cigarettes and embracing vaping as a way for smokers to improve their health and ultimately quit.
Officials with the New Zealand Ministry of Health recently announced their support for e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool that they argue is a net positive for overall public health in the country. The government revealed its Smokefree 2025 initiative Oct. 11, which seeks to reduce smoking rates to minimal levels by leveraging new technologies like vaping to aid the quitting effort of smokers, reports Vaping 360.
Health officials in New Zealand correctly point out there is no demonstrable proof that e-cigarettes are attracting youth or adults who do not use tobacco products, a narrative often pushed by anti-vaping groups that advocate for crushing restrictions on the industry.
“Recent decisions taken by Government have increased the focus on harm reduction with an aim to support smokers to switch to significantly less harmful products like e-cigarettes,” reads an Oct. 11 statement from the Ministry of Health. “Smokers switching to e-cigarettes are highly likely to reduce their health risks and for those around them. E-cigarettes release negligible levels of nicotine and other toxicants into ambient air with no identified health risks to bystanders.”
The new focus on harm reduction by New Zealand’s government follows the model of the United Kingdom, where the government is slowly accepting e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool. It is an encouraging development, considering the adversarial stance of neighboring Australia towards vaping.
The Australian government’s Therapeutic Goods Administration classifies liquid nicotine as a poison. Smokers looking to ditch cigarettes for a healthier alternative are legally allowed to buy vaping devices, but are barred from using the fluid necessary to successfully quit. Meanwhile, cigarettes remain legal and the smoking population in Australia is increasing, due to the restricted access to alternative technologies.
The U.K.’s Department of Health released a policy paper on e-cigarettes July 18, backing the devices as a useful tool to quit smoking and eliminate second-hand risks to the public. The Department’s Five Year Tobacco Control plan aims to bring the smoking rate down from 15.5 percent to 12 percent by the end of 2022.
The report states that the government wants to “minimize the risk of harm” to the smoker and those around them by “maximizing the availability of safer alternatives to smoking.”
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