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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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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COVID-19 hospitalisation peaks in Australian States since Omicron emerged: potential relevance to Aotearoa NZ

Friday, February 4th, 2022 | Nick Wilson | No Comments

Dr Jennifer Summers, Prof Nick Wilson, Prof Michael Baker*

In this blog we examine the hospitalisation and ICU burden from the recent waves of COVID-19 in Australia, dominated by the Omicron variant. The peak in hospitalisations in Australia during the months of December 2021 and January 2022 occurred on 19 January with 5,302 people in hospital. ICU numbers also peaked on the 19 January at 424 people. Applying the Australian experience to NZ on a per capita basis would suggest peaks of 1,107 people in NZ hospitals and 90 people in ICUs. We also discuss the value and limitations of using the Australian experience to inform planning for the developing NZ Omicron wave.

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Five Potential Enhancements of Covid-19 Outbreak Control in Aotearoa NZ

Friday, August 20th, 2021 | Nick Wilson | No Comments

Prof Nick Wilson, Dr Jennifer Summers, Dr Leah Grout, Prof Michael Baker*

Successful control of the current Covid-19 outbreak in NZ is looking feasible but many challenges remain. Therefore to maximise the chances of returning to elimination status and improve our resilience to future outbreaks, we propose the following potential enhancements: (i) develop a robust system to allow for region-specific Alert Levels; (ii) mandate QR code scanning; (iii) expand mask use requirements to all essential workers; (iv) greatly prioritise vaccination of essential workers; and (v) consider the suspension or minimisation of all incoming international passenger flights during the outbreak.

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Five lessons for Aotearoa NZ from the current COVID-19 outbreak in New South Wales

Friday, August 13th, 2021 | Nick Wilson | 2 Comments

Dr Leah Grout, Dr Jennifer Summers, Dr Amanda Kvalsvig, Prof Michael Baker, Prof Nick Wilson*

Australia has generally succeeded in eliminating community transmission of the pandemic virus SARS-CoV-2, but the Greater Sydney region is currently facing a large COVID-19 outbreak, driven by the Delta variant. The New South Wales Government is struggling to control the outbreak and the grim situation holds a number of lessons for NZ.

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