As the New Zealand government heard some health professionals call for further rises in cigarette taxes as the sole measure to curb the country’s smoking prevalence, one expert has suggested not only that e-cigarettes could be the answer, but that they don’t need regulating.
Associate Professor Marewa Glover of Massey University’s Research Centre for Maori Health & Development has been working with the Maori community (where smoking has historically been at unusually high rates) for many years. She advocates availability of e-cigarettes as a means of reducing death and disease associated with smoking.
She believes the harm-reduction argument has already been won – echoing the recent factasia opinion poll that showed
- 80 percent of NZ smokers say that “through tax and regulatory policies, the Government should encourage adult smokers to switch to less harmful alternatives to cigarettes and ensure they are not used by youth.”
- 78 percent say e-cigarettes represent “a positive alternative to today’s conventional cigarettes” and
- 63 percent “would consider switching to e-cigarettes if they were legal, met quality and safety standards, and were conveniently available.”
“Vaping is not a public health issue,” she told factasia. It should not attract precious funding away from very real threats to public health. Like many other products, electronic cigarettes and e-liquids are already covered by existing consumer laws. Because of the huge cost involved in assessing, consulting, lobbying and debating new regulations or laws, I oppose the call for regulation of electronic cigarettes, e-liquids and vaping. The money is needed elsewhere – it should not be wasted on this. I do not think it is even necessary to legislate for “safety and product quality”. Existing consumer protection laws should be sufficient.
Prof Glover acknowledged there are “vociferous groups who are opposed to vaping on ideological (not medical or scientific) grounds. They may be scientists and medical professionals, but they are also all ideologically driven to recreate society in their image and or in accordance with their decision about what ‘a better world’ will look like.”
She says vaping (use of electronic cigarettes) “should only receive any attention in terms of the potential for rapidly reducing tobacco smoking prevalence and consumption in New Zealand. No attention at all should be wasted on work effort to regulate, legislate or police vaping. Existing surveys can include questions to enable monitoring of the prevalence of vaping and inform review at a later time.”