Vaping has upended smoking here in New Zealand across all ethnicities and age groups. To build our domestic success into a global one, we are being formed to take our industry to the next level. Around 380,000 kiwis smoke daily with another one billion smokers around the world. Kiwi vaping could be a good for global health as it would be for exports as a creative knowledge-led industry. For these reasons, neither Big Pharma nor Big Tobacco may join VIANZ.

Vaping is Tobacco Harm Reduction

Vaping is much less harmful than smoking.

Despite years of high tobacco taxes, stark health warnings and restrictions over where and when people can smoke, many smokers are unable – or unwilling – to stop smoking.  Smoking cessation has traditionally comes down to a stark binary choice of quit or die. 


There is a third way and that is tobacco harm reduction.  This is  using alternative ways for people to access nicotine than by smoking. As researcher Michael Russell said in 1976, “people smoke for the nicotine but they die from the tar.”  While quitting smoking is the best outcome, for those who can’t, vapes deliver nicotine in a way that smokers are used to. The Cochrane Tobacco Addiction Group concludes that switching to electronic cigarettes is likely to lead to significant improvements in health.

In 2020 vaping was regulated by the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act.  In the 2020/2021 New Zealand Health Survey, daily smoking fell by 2.5% to 9.4% while daily vaping increased by 2.7% to 6.2%. A record 98,000 Kiwis quit smoking.


Vaping Safety

Vaping is 95% less harmful that smoking cigarettes.

In 2015 and 2018 Public Health England (now the Office for Health Improvement and Disparities) concluded that vaping is 95% less harmful that smoking cigarettes. Tobacco smoke is made up of thousands of chemicals, including at least 70 known to cause cancer. 


The Minister of Health replying to a 2022 Written Parliamentary Question (2022), confirmed that there has been no primary diagnosis of vaping related disorders in New Zealand since July 2019


In 2020, vapes were examined by the UK government’s Committee on Toxicity of Chemicals in Food, Consumer Products and the Environment (COT).  This concluded that vapes produced “according to appropriate manufacturing standards and used as recommended, as a replacement for CC [cigarette] smoking, is likely to be associated with a reduction in overall risk of adverse health effects…”


The UK COTS found no information to suggest that flavouring products in e-liquids affected human health, but did acknowledge that an information gap existed.  While vaping was associated with some emissions into ambient air, including nicotine, the risks to bystanders was probably low in normal exposure scenarios, though exposure to nicotine in ambient air may occur in some individuals.


Vaping is for 18+ smokers and vapers only

Vaping is an adult decision for 18+ smokers and vapers only.

VIANZ is so adamant about this that we ask the public to report stores who sell to youth or anyone, whether a member or not, who targets youth through illegal marketing.  This is why we ask you to report it to the Vaping Regulatory Authority here and to us at Report It!


Illegal ingredients

VIANZ supports efforts to stop illegal sales

Illegal vapes that contain banned cannabis THC oil and banned ingredients are dangerous.  VIANZ supports efforts to stop illegal vape sales and this is a condition of membership. If you know any store that is selling illegal vapes or targeting youth then report it to the Vaping Regulatory Authority here and tell us too.


Vaping to quit smoking

98,000 New Zealanders quit smoking in the past year

The 2020/21 New Zealand Health Survey shows that around 98,000 New Zealanders quit smoking in one year, a record, while the number of daily vapers grew by 114,000. 


This is further backed by the UK’s influential Cochrane review (2021) of 61 completed studies. Voluntary vaping was more effective than prescribed Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT).  For every 100 people using a vape to stop smoking, 9 to 14 might successfully stop versus only 6 out of 100 people using prescribed NRT.


Taxes on vaping products

Opposed the imposition of taxes on vaping products

VIANZ opposes the imposition of taxes on vaping products aside from Goods and Services Tax (GST). Taxing vaping substances by adding excise would benefit big tobacco by closing the price gap between far-more dangerous cigarettes and inherently safer vaping products.


Our view is that all vaping substances must be free of excise tax free because GST is charged on top of this tax (a tax on a tax).  By encouraging vaping over smoking it will put hundreds of millions of dollars back into some of the poorest households in New Zealand too.   


Flavours are vital to reduce smoking

VIANZ does not support the current flavour ban

As most New Zealanders buy cigarettes from dairies, supermarkets and service stations, VIANZ does not support the current flavour ban in those outlets, which are limited to mint, menthol and tobacco favours only.  Our reasoning for this is shared by ASH NZ in its keynote Surge Strategy.  Flavours are integral to a pleasurable sensory experience that aids switching and is in complete contrast to nicotine replacement therapy and smoking cessation medicines. 


ASH NZ (2022) also found that 3.5% of youth (Year-10 students) purchased vaping products from dairies, supermarkets and service stations.  This means 96.3% did not and shows a high level of seller compliance with education and enforcement best suited to educating the minority. 


Tobacco and nicotine pouches

Passive vaping products should be available for 18+ smokers and vapers.

VIANZ believes that passive vaping products like Scandinavian tobacco and nicotine pouches should be available for 18+ smokers and vapers. This is helped Sweden to achieve the lowest smoking rates in Europe and the lowest rates of lung cancer in Europe.  Along with e-liquid and heated (smokeless) tobacco vaping products, pouches create an opportunity for New Zealand to not just import, but to make and export these products that should not be classed here as being a medical product.


Nicotine while addictive is not harmful

Vital to help smokers to switch to vaping from smoking cigarettes

Nicotine while highly addictive is not dangerous at the levels carried in vaping products and passes naturally from the body within a few days after the last vape.  Nicotine is vital to tobacco harm reduction but is often confused with the harms of smoking. 


It is vital to help smokers to switch to vaping from smoking cigarettes because ‘people smoke for nicotine but they die from the tar’ (Professor Michael Russel).


Showing the confusion is a 2021 United States study by Rutgers University. Unbelievably 80.5% of U.S. doctors and specialists surveyed confused the harms from smoking cigarettes with nicotine.  The survey concludes: “To best serve patients, physicians need to be better informed that the primary risk of nicotine in tobacco products is due to addiction/dependence , while other carcinogens and chemicals, particularly those produced by combustion, serve as the primary source of risk for tobacco causes diseases.”


Nicotine may work differently with vaping products than it does with the 6,000 constituents in cigarette smoke.  A 2022 study by the Health Promotion Agency found that during the August 2021 Covid-19 lockdowns, 15% of 18-24 year-olds stopped vaping due mostly a lack of socialisation. No such stop rate was found in smoking for the same period. This aspect deserves greater research.

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