Proposals to reduce youth vaping: Important steps but a more comprehensive approach needed

Tuesday, January 10th, 2023 | Nick Wilson | 2 Comments

Janet Hoek, Jude Ball, Richard Edwards, Anna Graham-DeMello*

As part of the consultation process to denicotinise cigarettes and reduce the number of stores selling tobacco, Associate Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall has outlined proposals to strengthen vaping product regulation. Noting that: “youth vaping rates are too high and we need to strike a better balance”, she has requested feedback on three additional measures: proximity restrictions for specialist vape retailers, disallowing evocative flavour names, and introducing new requirements for disposable vapes, including a reduction in the maximum nicotine concentration permitted. These proposals will help protect young people from aggressive vape marketing, but do they go far enough? In this blog, we explore additional measures that could more comprehensively regulate vaping product design and packaging, pricing, availability and promotion.

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NZ’s Draft National Security Long-term Insights Briefing: One part of a national risks assessment that should include pandemics and other global catastrophes

Thursday, December 15th, 2022 | cooju60p | No Comments

Matt Boyd, Ben Payne, Nick Wilson*

The Draft NZ National Security Long-term Insights Briefing (LTIB) has recently been produced by the NZ Government. In this blog we discuss its merits and how the process could be further advanced. In particular there is a need to: (i) improve future iterations of the public survey (eg, the next one in February/March 2023); (ii) signal a move towards an integrated and comprehensive National Risks Assessment; and (iii) explicitly articulate the extreme tail risks of each major trend identified in the LTIB (ie, nuclear war, unaligned artificial intelligence, extreme climate change, and catastrophic pandemics).

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Key findings for smoking and e-cigarette use prevalence and trends in the 2021/22 NZ Health Survey: continued rapid falls in smoking prevalence and increases in vaping

Tuesday, December 13th, 2022 | cooju60p | 1 Comment

Richard Edwards, Jude Ball, Janet Hoek, Andrew Waa*

New Zealand Health Survey (NZHS) data was released in late November. In this blog, we assess whether the substantial reductions in smoking prevalence and increase in e-cigarette (EC) use/vaping observed in last year’s survey have continued. Key findings included:

  • The accelerated decline in daily and current smoking prevalence first seen in 2020/21 continued into 2021/22, including among Māori and the most deprived population groups, but not among Pacific peoples.
  • The greatest reduction in smoking prevalence since 2011/12 occurred among people aged <35 years with much smaller reductions among people aged ≥55 years.
  • The rapid increase in prevalence of EC use seen in 2020/21 continued in 2021/22, with the increase greatest among young people aged <25 years.

We explore implications for the Smokefree Aotearoa goal and legislative and regulatory frameworks for smoking and ECs.

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Expanding the Definition of Tobacco Harm Reduction: A Mindset Change to Help Achieve a Smokefree Aotearoa

Friday, December 2nd, 2022 | cooju60p | No Comments

Nick Wilson, Janet Hoek, Andrew Waa, Richard Edwards*

Although tobacco harm reduction will likely support realisation of the Smokefree Aotearoa Goal, this approach is often narrowly conceptualised as supporting transitions from smoking to alternative nicotine products that are less harmful. In this blog, we outline an expanded definition that goes beyond supporting access to and uptake of alternative nicotine products like vaping and recognises other core harm reduction approaches. These include measures that decrease the harmfulness of smoked tobacco products to the user and to others, and interventions that reduce the appeal, availability and addictiveness of smoked tobacco products in absolute terms and relative to alternative nicotine products. We encourage further discussion of these ideas amongst the smokefree community as attention turns to how measures in the soon-to-be-enacted
Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Smoked Tobacco) Amendment Bill will be implemented.

Image by Tumisu from Pixabay

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The case for denicotinising tobacco in Aotearoa NZ remains strong: response to online critique

Friday, November 18th, 2022 | Nick Wilson | 2 Comments

Richard Edwards, Driss Ait Ouakrim, Tim Wilson, Andrew Waa, Raglan Maddox, Jennifer Summers, Coral Gartner, Raymond Lovett, Nick Wilson, Tony Blakely*

This blog responds to a recent online critique of a study that modelled how key components of the Smokefree Aotearoa Action Plan would affect smoking prevalence. Given the interest in the study due to developments with the Action Plan and associated legislation before Parliament, we published our findings as a pre-print while it was undergoing peer-review at an academic journal. The online critique made several criticisms of the methods of our study and the conclusion that mandated denicotinisation of smoked tobacco products would likely profoundly reduce smoking prevalence and health inequities. The key criticism – that we relied mainly on evidence from a single randomised controlled trial (RCT) of very low nicotine cigarettes (VLNCs) – is incorrect. Further, the critique and associated press coverage incorrectly imply that the case for mandated denicotinisation is weak and thus that the policy is not justified. The exact impact of mandated denicotinisation is uncertain because it has never been implemented outside of research studies which only partially simulate the policy. However, modelling studies, trials, other evidence and careful logical analysis of the policy strongly suggest it will be highly effective as the key policy to dramatically lower smoking prevalence and reduce health loss and inequalities when implemented in the Aotearoa/New Zealand (A/NZ) context.

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