AVCA Disappointed With Lack Of Smokefree Progress


106
106 points

Monday, 7 December 2020, 2:25 pm

Press Release: AVCA

New Zealand’s leading vaping consumer group is deeply
disappointed there remains no action plan to achieve the
ambitious national goal of Smokefree 2025.

“Back in
2011 when Smokefree 2025 was launched, it was viewed as
doable albeit requiring serious and deliberate government
programmes and intervention. However, nine years on we’re
still sadly miles off,” says Nancy Loucas, co-director of
Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy (AVCA).

Reportedly,
without bold action, non-Māori won’t be smokefree until
2038 and Māori won’t be smokefree until 2061.

AVCA
has every confidence that new Associate Health Minster Dr
Ayesha Verrall will deliver on the Government’s
pre-election promise to make a Smokefree 2025 Action Plan
‘an immediate priority’.

Dr Verrall has confirmed
the plan will be put out for consultation shortly, and that
she is keen to make sure the Government uses all the tools
it has at its disposal to deliver on the goal.

“Dr
Verrall views Smokefree 2025 as absolutely critical given
New Zealand’s 5,000 preventable deaths every year due to
tobacco. However, she also knows it will require a lot of
focus. Those of us in the business of tobacco harm reduction
believe Ayesha Verrall is the best champion to pick up this
baton and deliver,” she says.

In August, Parliament
passed the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products
(Vaping) Amendment Act 2020. Companies cannot now advertise
vaping products and next year flavour sales will be
restricted for general retailers.

Ms Loucas says while
the legislation has done well to lock in quality standards
and strictly sanction vaping products as R18, other
provisions only make Smokefree 2025 more difficult to
achieve.

“By making vaping less visible and less
attractive for smokers, you’re only making it less likely
they’ll successfully quit tobacco. We warned the Health
Select Committee about this but were ignored. With general
acceptance now that New Zealand’s smokefree goal is in
real jeopardy, the Government should not rule out amending
the vaping legislation to make sure it’s helping, not
hindering, Kiwis to give up cigarettes,” she
says.

Experts agree that ‘encouragement of less
harmful alternatives like vaping’ would be a quick win in
the Government’s Smokefree 2025 Action Plan. With that in
mind, AVCA sees the resourcing and ramping up of the
publicly-funded ‘Vape to Quit Smoking’ campaign as an
immediate priority.

With 200,000 vapers in New
Zealand, and as an independent consumer advocacy group, AVCA
looks forward to the consultation on the Government’s
Smokefree 2025 Action Plan.

“We can’t wait to
share our perspective and suggestions on the bold measures
that must now be taken. Given tobacco is killing 12 Kiwis a
day, there is absolutely no time to waste,” says Nancy
Loucas.

AVCA’s Parliamentary petition on vaping,
which over 17,000 Kiwis signed, was formally accepted by
Parliament and referred to the Health Select Committee on 18
August. AVCA still awaits the committee’s response to
it.

About AVCA

AVCA was formed in 2016 by
vapers across New Zealand wanting their voices heard in
local and central government. All members are former smokers
who promote vaping to help smokers quit – a much less
harmful alternative to combustible tobacco products. AVCA
does not have any affiliation or vested interest in industry
– tobacco, pharmaceutical and/or the local vaping
manufacturing or retail sectors.

www.avca.org.nz

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