Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ (ARFNZ) are urging that the new Vaping Act regulations focus on the end goal of quitting both smoking and vaping.
Public consultation is now open for the ‘Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990’ regulations, calling for feedback on proposals under review including displays of vaping products in retail stores, the use of harm-reduction statements, and packaging requirements for vape products.
ARFNZ are preparing a submission to address their key concern - that there is a strong focus on promoting vaping as a ‘quit smoking tool’, but very little to encourage users to quit vaping as well.
ARFNZ references the proposed harm-reduction statements in the consultation paper that may be used in-store and online - ‘If you are a smoker, switching completely to vaping is a much less harmful option’ and ‘Switching completely from smoking to vaping will reduce harms to your health’.
Letitia Harding, Chief Executive, ARFNZ says "Although vaping is considered to be potentially less harmful than smoking, we need to remember that it has its own risks - people will benefit most if they stop vaping once they are confident they will not relapse to smoking."
Existing studies on using vaping to quit smoking are not comprehensive and many show that vaping to quit smoking can lead to long-term dual use, which may cause more damage to the lungs and heart than smoking alone.
Evidence also shows that transitioning from smoking to vaping is more successful when combined with intense behavioural support and advice.
"People need to transition completely from smoking to vaping if they are to benefit; they need a support plan and should receive cessation advice at the point of sale each time they purchase a vaping product" says Letitia.
The Foundation suggests mandatory staff training in smoking cessation for all specialist vape retailers.
"People selling vape products should be equipped to provide advice on switching from smoking to vaping. To be responsible retailers, all specialist vape stores should invest in ensuring their staff have these skills.
"Programmes such as the ‘Stop Smoking Practitioner Programme’ (SSPP) qualification would enable staff to provide smoking cessation advice and direct people to long-term quit smoking wrap-around support service providers."
Dr David McNamara, Respiratory Paediatrician, Auckland, who is a member of the Foundation’s Vaping Educational Advisory Group (VEAG) also calls for regulation to control the display of vaping products.
"We must also do everything possible to discourage non-smokers, particularly youth, from taking up vaping in the first place" says David.
The Foundation says these regulations are a chance to find a balance between supporting current cigarette smokers to quit, whilst also protecting our youth from vaping.
"Ultimately the end goal should be for a Smokefree and Vape-free Aotearoa" says Letitia.
The Government consultation closes on March 15, 2021.