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

Friday, November 18th, 2022 | Nick Wilson | 1 Comment

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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Staying Safe from COVID-19 over Summer and Beyond: The Need for More NZ Government Action

Monday, December 21st, 2020 | Nick Wilson | 1 Comment

Prof Nick Wilson, Prof Michael Baker

Aotearoa/NZ has responded very successfully to the COVID-19 pandemic by achieving elimination and the lowest death rate in the OECD. But there are ongoing risks – which may even be increasing with larger numbers of infected returnees in border facilities. In this final blog of the year we detail the critical actions needed to lower the risk further, with these measures being largely the responsibility of the NZ Government. We also highlight the importance of ensuring the huge investment in the COVID-19 response generates lasting benefits for NZ.

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