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Vaping regulation: Risk-proportionate, Responsive, relevant, responsible?

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The Ministry of Health are making moves to regulate vapes, e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products. This is supported by Hāpai Te Hauora who hopes that the Ministry do their best to provide effective and sustainable regulation. "Regulation is an important aspect of harm minimisation" says Hāpai CEO Lance Norman, "as it ensures products undergo robust quality testing that informs consumers of their associated health risks if any".

Risk-proportionate regulation for vaping and heated tobacco products are being considered by the Ministry of Health since the Philip Morris vs Ministry of Health District Court decision ruled that all tobacco products could be lawfully sold under the Smoke-free Environments Act with the exception of chewing and dissolving types.

Hāpai urges regulators to include health warnings and messages including relevant information for smoking cessation services; to think carefully about where alternatives are supplied to provide the most effective opportunity for people to choose less harmful products; product testing should be mandatory which measures products along a scale of harm minimisation and ensures that there are no barriers put up for those looking to switch to reduced harm products.

Hāpai has over 20 years’ experience influencing policy direction in public health in Aotearoa and has provided leadership in tobacco harm reduction over that time, contributing especially to Smokefree 2025. "There are obvious advantages to calling on those of us who have experience in tobacco control advocacy as we’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. Poor policy over time strengthens the position of industry to play hard ball against those of us advocating for the wellbeing of communities."

For Māori and Pacific populations who experience the most smoking related harm, it is important that governments and the ministry provide culturally responsive regulation, that doesn’t further marginalise these high needs populations. Engagement with communities including grassroots initiatives such as Vape2Save, will be vital in this respect. Furthermore, it is necessary that regulation is regularly reviewed and informed by on-going international research that is able to adapt to changing environments with the ongoing introduction of new products and ensures these products are indeed supporting smokers through their quit journey rather than contributing more to their harm.

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