Richard Edwards, Janet Hoek, Nick Wilson, Andrew Waa [All from Department of Public Heath, University of Otago, Wellington]
New NZ Health Survey data show some encouraging recent reductions in smoking prevalence. However, progress remains inadequate to achieve the Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 goal and the government needs to take urgent action, particularly to reduce marked disparities for Māori and Pacific peoples. The data also show increased uptake of e-cigarettes/vaping over the last 3-4 years, but the contribution of vaping to helping achieve the smokefree goal is not yet clear.
Dr Lindsay Robertson, Dr Jerram Bateman, Professor Janet Hoek
Members of the public health community hold divergent views on how access to vaping products or electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) products should be arranged. Some believe ENDS should be as widely available as smoked tobacco and argue for liberal access. However, others suggest smoked tobacco should be much less available than is currently the case and propose that only retailers skilled in supporting smoking cessation should sell ENDS. In this blog, we probe concerns about allowing widespread availability of ENDS and related products. We first draw on related research into smoked tobacco products and then discuss findings from our recently published study that questions the wisdom of allowing ENDS to be sold by non-specialist retailers.
Prof Nick Wilson, Prof Richard Edwards, Prof Janet Hoek
Tobacco control’s focus on supporting smokers to quit, thus reducing the harm they face (eg, via appropriately regulated access to e-cigarettes) remains important. However, we need to do more to protect youth and non-smokers from the burden of tobacco. In this blog we use the issue of tobacco tax increases to show the potentially large benefits to youth and non-smokers – as well as to smokers who quit. Policy-makers need to take a broad view of how tobacco control policies impact on society so that progress to the country’s Smokefree 2025 goal is accelerated.
Prof Nick Wilson, Dr Frederieke Petrović-van der Deen, Dr Cristina Cleghorn, A/Prof Coral Gartner, Prof Tony Blakely
Our just published modelling study suggests that easier access to nicotine via vaping as a replacement for tobacco smoking, will improve the health of the NZ population. The estimated health gain is about the same as 10% per annum tobacco tax increases per year for 15 years, or a national colorectal cancer screening programme. Considering all sources of uncertainty, our study supports cautious liberalisation of nicotine-containing e-cigarettes – as NZ is doing. In this blog we discuss this new study and issues that policy-makers should consider to maximise the potential health gain – and minimise risks.
Richard Edwards, Anaru Waa, Janet Hoek, Louise Thornley, Nick Wilson.
ASPIRE 2025, Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington
World Smokefree Day is an apt day on which to propose some ideas that may greatly increase momentum for the achieving Smokefree Aotearoa 2025. Tobacco and vaping products such as e-cigarettes vary greatly in their likely adverse health effects and overall impact on population health. Reflecting this, the Ministry of Health announced in May that it will investigate ‘risk-proportionate’ regulation for tobacco and vaping products. This blog discusses public health considerations in developing the new regulatory framework, and proposes key features of a risk-proportionate approach. We argue the framework should aim to minimise harm and maximise benefits to population health by accelerating progress towards New Zealand’s Smokefree 2025 goal. As well as clarifying the appropriate regulatory approaches to vaping products, we see an overwhelming need for much stronger regulation of smoked tobacco products, as these are vastly under-regulated in relation to the harm they cause.