Once aggressively anti-vaping, New Zealand does a 180 turnaround
Vaping regulations vary greatly depending on the county, but New Zealand is proof that political leaders can quickly reverse their opinions based on the scientific evidence. The United States is currently undergoing a years-long attack on electronic cigarettes that is largely spearheaded by its very own public health agency, the FDA.
Meanwhile in the United Kingdom, its equivalent agency Public Health England is responsible for revolutionary research identifying vaping as 95 percent less harmful than smoking. In the UK, vaping is largely encouraged as a tobacco harm reduction tool and smoking cessation aid.
In Australia, regulatory requirements are far more severe. All e-cigarette products, either imported or manufactured in-country, must first be approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration. E-cigarettes containing nicotine-enhanced e-liquids are legally banned, and offenders of the regulations can receive substantial fines. As a result of the stricter regulatory actions, Australia is currently experiencing a thriving black market on vaping products.
Its closest neighboring nation, New Zealand, has spent several years being as aggressively anti-vaping as Australia. However, in recent months, political leaders seem to have had a rather dramatic change of heart. Vaping as a safe and effective alternative to smoking is now allowed in New Zealand as the nation is striving to become entirely smoke-free by the year 2025.
New Zealand Minister of Health takes a pro-vaping stance
In early March 2019, New Zealand’s Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa issued a press release regarding a recent speech to the Parliament’s Vaping Policy Forum. During the event, Salesa praised the national teenage community for its commitment to abstaining from smoking.
For the first time in the country’s history, smoking rates among year 10 students were below 2 percent. Smoking rates across all demographics are also dropping consistently, and even the number of new teen vapers dropped from 0.8 percent the previous year to 0.5 percent today.
“The latest findings show the Government is making progress towards our Smokefree 2025 goal and delivering on our plan to build healthier communities and improve wellbeing….This is really good news but we still have more work to do to achieve equity amongst all New Zealand teenagers.”
The decline in teen vaping rates is especially noteworthy because this data automatically debunks many statements made by health officials in American and elsewhere claiming that vaping is a gateway to smoking. Statistics published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2017 indicate similar contradictory findings which indicate that teen vaping rates actually dropped from 16 percent in 2016 to only 11.3 percent in 2017.
While U.S. public health officials seem to be much more reluctant to change their anti-vaping rhetoric, what’s happening in New Zealand should give all vapers hope. Things can change, but the vaping community must remain vigilant in its commitment to debunking false facts and educating the general public on the many health benefits of vaping for smokers trying to quit.
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