The perspective and actions of the following director-general of well being will likely be key to New Zealand reaching its smokefree ambitions, says the Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (CAPHRA).
“This person could make or break Smokefree 2025. He or she advises the government, oversees regulation, and has the final say on new vape store licences. It’s an incredibly important position when it comes to New Zealand effectively addressing tobacco,” says Nancy Loucas, govt coordinator of the Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Advocates (CAPHRA).
Current Director-General of Health Ashley Bloomfield will depart the job in July, together with his successor but to be appointed.
Loucas says that whereas New Zealand’s Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Act 2020 is considered internationally as comparatively progressive, there are some provisions that the following director-general ought to overview.
“The act claims to strike a balance between ensuring vaping products are available to adult smokers while protecting young people. Sanctioning it as an R18 product has helped achieve that. However, banning the most popular flavours from general retail is only stopping adult smokers from quitting deadly tobacco,” she says.
Since August 11, 2021, normal retailers corresponding to supermarkets, service stations and comfort shops have been restricted to only promoting three flavors–mint, menthol and tobacco. Only licenced specialist vape shops can promote a full vary of extra well-liked flavours.
“The next Director-General of Health must review this restriction on general retail. By the time he or she takes office, the flavor ban would have run a year and many of us strongly believe it’s hindering not helping New Zealand achieve Smokefree 2025.
“Adult smokers desperate to quit can go to a supermarket and choose any brand of cigarette under the sun, yet they can only choose from three vape flavors. That’s not enabling them to make the best decision for their health nor is it helping New Zealand reduce its smoking rate,” says Loucas.