There is a country that is seriously trying to open a new frontier in the fight against smoking, changing the paradigm with respect to current European and American policies that counteract the addiction to cigarettes with low sensitivity to low-risk devices. It’s New Zealand. The health but above all cultural challenge of the state in the southwestern Pacific Ocean was the focus of a session of the event ‘The E-Cigarette Summit Usa‘. “New Zealand has a long history of very aggressive tobacco control policies,” he pointed out Ben Youdan, director of Youdan Consulting -. In 2020-21, 9.4% of adults smoked habitually, 1.1% once a day, 6.4% of adults used ‘electronic’ smoking and 5.8% of over 18s did it every day . One of the objectives set by the government was to reduce daily smoking below the 5% threshold from 2025 “.
“Until 2020, electronic cigarettes were not regulated in New Zealand – continued the expert – legislation was introduced two years ago with the aim of finding a balance between giving those who want to quit cigarettes the possibility to switch to alternative products less harmful and protect the consumer from products not yet certified. In addition, an attempt was also made to limit the possibility of their becoming attractive to young people. This legislation is very clear – explains Youdan – it helps those who want to abandon traditional smoking but also wants to avoid encouraging young people towards new electronic devices “. In this, the government’s measures have therefore created” a new category of products but above all tried to give the tools to support the passage of smokers to those devices that have a reduced risk “, recalled the expert.
New Zealand’s e-smoking policy is based on a few principles: has heavy marketing restrictions; a particular retail system; a partial ban on flavored substances in e-cigarettes; safety protocols and adverse effect reports; a ban on oral tobacco, ‘snus’; information campaigns on electronic cigarettes and to completely quit smoking. The slogan of a campaign is: vaping, or electronic smoking, can help you quit smoking. According to Youdan, “this innovative New Zealand approach shifts the historical focus on smoking and not tobacco or nicotine.”
The expert also traced the aspect of social fragility linked to the life expectancy of the Maori population, the one most affected by addictions including that of smoking. “The Maori community has one of the lowest life expectancies in the world and is where traditional policies to reduce addiction to cigarettes have failed“, recalled Youdan, who illustrated how the Government’s objective is also to reduce the impact of smoking on the life expectancy of the population and to save” the costs of the health system equal to 2.8 billion dollars. New Zealanders “.
The paradigm shift within the new legislation is based on the fact that “helping smokers switch to regular reduced-risk devices is significantly less harmful than continuing to stick with cigarettes“, Youdan observes. The expert commented on some data of the Maori population,” with the increase of vaping the number of traditional cigarette smokers has drastically dropped, while if we compare the figures with the percentages in Europe and the rest of the world they are decidedly inferior. The more you help to use alternative products to cigarettes, the more ex-smokers you will have “.
The downside of this New Zealand challenge is that e-cigarettes can become attractive to younger people. “It is true that encouraging low-risk products can bring young people closer to vaping but if we then go to see the data – Youdan commented – the prevalence of these new “vapers” shows that only 3% had never smoked, while almost 80% were already a habitual smoker“. The Government’s goal is” to eliminate the damage that smoked tobacco products cause to our communities, the tobacco of traditional cigarettes is the problem and today there is a possibility offered by vaping that was not there before and must be offered. to smokers “, concludes the expert. In New Zealand there is a strong push to have a new generation of smoke-free citizens and this seems to be the next challenge.
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