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Vape advocates want Govt’s position to WHO revealed

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The position the Government will take on smoke-free nicotine products, such as vaping, at a key World Health Organisation meeting later this year, needs to be publicly known now, says the Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy (AVCA).

In a letter to Associate Minister of Health Jenny Salesa, AVCA has sought the Ministry of Health’s official position on electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) that they will present on behalf of New Zealand. The meeting of the Ninth Session of Parties (COP9) of WHO’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) will take place at The Hague in November.

"As the Government is sending delegates to COP9, and as consumers’ rights to choose to use less harmful products to switch from smoking remain under tremendous threat from FCTC’s continuing failure to address scientific evidence, democratic processes and human rights, we respectfully request that you share with us the details of our nation’s position being presented in November by our delegation," stated the letter signed by AVCA directors Nancy Loucas, Steven Dohmen, Jan Walsh, and Leon Coertze.

"Consumers have the right to make choices that help them avoid adverse health outcomes, and smokers have the right to access less harmful nicotine products as alternatives to smoking. We ask you to take account of this right when making your submission to COP9," AVCA wrote.

AVCA Director, Nancy Loucas, says FCTC has repeatedly failed to pursue harm reduction as a core tobacco control policy over the past 18 years, and New Zealand now has a unique opportunity to show leadership.

"With the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Bill open for public submissions, New Zealand is well placed to champion the rights of vapers and those who use much less harmful smoke-free alternatives," says Ms Loucas.

AVCA said Public Health England's annual reviews of all available evidence have consistently concluded that e-cigarettes are around 95% less harmful than smoking.

Established in 2016 as an advocacy group for consumers, AVCA says smoke-free nicotine products do not contain carcinogens and toxicants found in tar which is a by-product of smoke. It has been known for decades that tar, and carcinogens found in tobacco smoke, cause the death and disease associated with smoking, not nicotine.

In its letter to the Associate Health Minister, AVCA also called on New Zealand’s delegates to the WHO meeting at The Hague to deplore FCTC’s policy to make the sessions closed-door, unaccountable and unreported.

"By supporting these largely secret but critical global meetings, New Zealand ends up aiding and abetting those with vested interests internationally, rather than representing and supporting its citizens who have positively chosen to switch from deadly smoking to safer alternatives," says Nancy Loucas.

AVCA says those wanting to make a submission on the bill to regulate vaping can do so via the parliamentary website: https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/sc/make-a-submission/document/52SCHE_SCF_BILL_94933/smokefree-environments-and-regulated-products-vaping.

Public submissions on the bill close on 1 April 2020.

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