Janet Hoek, Nick Wilson, Richard Edwards, Andrew Waa*
From tomorrow (11 August 2021), Aotearoa New Zealand’s Smoke-free Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Act 2020 will restrict the e-liquid flavours available at generic retail outlets, such as convenience stores. This measure responded to sustained concerns about the rising prevalence of electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) use among young people, many of whom find e-liquid flavours very appealing. At the same time, some argue that allowing all retail outlets to sell diverse flavours could foster switching from smoking to ENDS use and accelerate progress towards the Smokefree 2025 goal. In this blog, we discuss flavour restrictions and their potential impact on people who smoke and those who neither smoke nor use vaping products.
Amanda Kvalsvig, Nick Wilson, and Michael Baker
Aotearoa NZ’s effective Covid-19 elimination strategy is now threatened by the global emergence of new variants with increasingly high transmissibility. We outline the upgrades that are now urgently needed to keep New Zealanders safe, particularly in the light of the current outbreak risk in Wellington. Immediate actions include upgrading the Alert Level system with a particular focus on mask use, making the Covid Tracer App compulsory for high risk indoor venues, rapidly vaccinating all remaining border and frontline health workers, ensuring that all New Zealanders are able to stay at home when required, and upgrading the Trans-Tasman Bubble settings.
Prof John D. Potter*
This blog post updates an earlier post on Long-COVID and reports that estimates of prevalence are still wide at about 15 to 65% of those initially infected with the pandemic virus, SARS-CoV-2. As things stand now across the world, we do not yet have systems in place to diagnose and manage the massive burden of the disease that is Long-COVID. An elimination strategy that includes, but is not limited to, widespread vaccination is not only crucial to reduce the acute case load and high mortality associated with infection with SARS-CoV-2 but is also key to minimising the damage that Long-COVID is otherwise certain to create for individuals, whanau, communities, and nations. This is a “long-read” post – and so readers short on time are welcome to jump to the Conclusions Section.
Andrew Waa, Heather Gifford, Shane Bradbrook
The recent release of the Government’s “Proposals for a Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 Action Plan” (the Plan) represents a significant step forward in how we think about tobacco control1. The Plan specifically references eliminating smoking related inequities, strengthening Māori governance and fulfilling government commitments to Te Tiriti o Waitangi as an essential part of achieving our Smokefree 2025 goal (SF2025). This blog considers the implications of the measures described in the plan for Māori.
Dr Leah Grout, Ameera Katar, Dr Jennifer Summers, Prof Nick Wilson (*Author details)
Aotearoa NZ and Australian states have successfully eliminated community transmission of COVID-19, albeit with occasional outbreaks from imported cases. Both countries have primarily used hotel-based quarantine for returning travellers, but still do not have optimal border control. In this blog we consider potential lessons from Australia’s 17 quarantine systems failures for NZ.