Media release: Smokers deserve better options to help them quit

Media release
11 May, 2018

Wellington (10 May 2018): Youth uptake of smoking is declining, but more support is needed to help current smokers quit.

A new report Smoke and Vapour: the changing world of tobacco harm reduction released by think tank The New Zealand Initiative describes the way e-cigarettes and other nicotine delivery products can contribute to tobacco harm reduction. This week the Ministry of Health publicly confirmed that these products can be lawfully imported, sold and distributed in New Zealand.

The report, by Research Fellow Jenesa Jeram, finds that there are nicotine delivery products available overseas (snus and heat-not-burn) which could help contribute to New Zealand’s ‘Smokefree by 2025’ aspiration.

“Declines in youth smoking should rightly be celebrated. But for too long, policymakers have sought to punish smokers through mechanisms like tobacco excise rather than giving smokers the ability to switch to less harmful alternatives,” says Jeram.

“Vaping is a good example of smokers choosing to cut down or quit smoking on their own terms, using products that work for them.”

Snus (reformulated tobacco pouches placed under the gum) has a strong history in Sweden, where snus-use has overtaken smoking rates. Heat-not-burn products (reformulated tobacco that is heated to release nicotine and flavour without combustion) are relatively new but uptake has been significant in Japan.

“Over ten years ago, the Ministry of Health was satisfied from the research at hand that snus is less harmful than smoking, but New Zealand continues to ban the sale of snus. Meanwhile in Sweden where snus-use is prolific, smoking prevalence has reduced to around 7%."

"Imagine the strides New Zealand could have achieved in reducing smoking rates if we legalised the sale of snus ten years ago.”

The release of Smoke and Vapour coincides with and discusses major developments in the regulatory environment. A recent court decision has concluded that heat-not-burn products can legally be sold in New Zealand.

Additionally, a members’ bill by National MP Hon Nicky Wagner proposes to legalise the sale of nicotine e-cigarettes.

“As the leaders of a progressive government, Labour should be embracing these new products as a compassionate approach to tobacco harm reduction. If every cigarette smoked causes damage, then every day the government denies access to these products will increase the harm to smokers,” concludes Jenesa Jeram.

Read more:
You can download Smoke and Vapour: the changing would of tobacco harm reduction and a report summary here.

About the author:
Jenesa Jeram is a Research Fellow at The New Zealand Initiative, focusing mainly on social issues and lifestyle regulations.


Jenesa Jeram is available for interviews, please contact:

Linda Heerink, Communications Officer
The New Zealand Initiative
Phone: +64 4 494 9109
Mobile: +64 21 172 8036

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