Tobacco smoking is a major health issue in New Zealand and is directly linked to many respiratory health issues.
We understand giving up smoking isn’t easy, however there are plenty of people who want to help make the process easier for you. For help with quitting, view our fact sheet here, call your local asthma partner, or call the Quitline on 0800 778 778.
The Foundation acknowledges that the use of e-cigarettes as part of a wraparound smoking cessation programme may assist some people, but there are also many alternatives that can assist smokers to quit which have actually passed stringent regulatory processes, are FDA and Medsafe approved and are available in New Zealand as prescription medicines. To date we do not have long-term, robust cause and effect studies that show either a) e-cigarettes and vaping products are effective as smoking cessation tools b) that e-cigarette’s and vaping are without any long-term harm.
Quote from the MoH Website “At this stage, the Ministry does not have enough evidence to recommend these products confidently as a smoking cessation tool. The Ministry advises smokers to use approved smoking cessation medicines in combination with behavioural support from stop-smoking services including face-to-face providers and/or Quitline.”
The Foundation however does recognise that for some current smokers of traditional cigarettes who have struggled to quit using current smoking cessation aids, the use of e-cigarettes or vaping products may help. Please talk to your local health professional for more information.
To date there is not enough data around the use of e-cigarettes and e-liquids/vaping products, and their long-term use to say that they are without any harm.
Dr Stuart Jones, Medical Director for the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ explains, “There is a huge concern around the flavours used in the inhaled products that have had no testing - that they are actually safe to inhale. This includes additives of which currently more than 7000 of them are food products. The stomach is very different to the lungs. There are a raft of studies demonstrating many of them are toxic to lung cells especially chocolate and berry. There are also currently no consumer safety requirements for these products.”
The Foundation encourages the government to ensure that e-cigarettes and e-liquid/ vaping products are regulated with product safety standards so that consumers can be informed on what they are inhaling into their lungs.
The position of the Thoracic Society is that these products are likely to be harmful to the lungs long-term. We cannot think of any other product which is manufactured to be inhaled, that has not been through stringent regulatory controls. This is vitally important and e-cigarettes should not be given a free ride. We have seen the damage caused by letting cigarettes escape regulation and New Zealand can ill afford to make the same mistake again,” says Dr Jones.
There is currently a lack of regulation around how e-cigarettes and vaping should be promoted, sold and used in New Zealand.
In terms of youth, the real concern is how the current market appears to be attracting young people to take up vaping for recreational use. As a response to this, the Foundation has produced a vaping education website 'Don't Get Sucked In'. This website presents vaping information in an interactive way, encouraging use to challenge themselves to find out if they have been 'sucked in' to some misconceptions.
Dr Stuart Jones, Medical Director for the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ comments, “From a medical perspective, we really want to protect our youth from starting to smoke or vape – period. We really don’t know what e-cigarettes mean in terms of people’s long-term lung health. The way they work means the vape is effectively inhaled directly into the lungs. We can’t say for sure at this moment in time what long term damage this could be doing especially in the developing lungs of young adults and children. We don’t understand enough about the flavours, although more and more published literature is coming out on the toxicity of some of the flavours, and the chemicals used in them and we know that nicotine containing e-liquids are addictive. We simply need more research in this area so we can adequately protect our e-cigarette/vaping ‘never user’ youth from starting, and so people can make informed decisions.”
E-liquids are available in many flavours used to target youth, for example Vampire's Blood - lemonade with raspberries and Dragon's Spit - chocolate and mint ice cream, which is a great concern.
“The last thing we want to happen is for our young generation of New Zealanders to pick up e-cigarettes thinking they are not harmful and inadvertently becoming an entry to a smoking habit,” says Dr Stuart Jones, President of the Thoracic Society of New Zealand and Medical Director of ARFNZ.
View the Foundation’s press release ‘Vaping – it’s not child’s play’ here.
ARFNZ recommends that if there is support for e-cigarette/ vaping product use in New Zealand as a smoking cessation device, then these products should be classified as therapeutic devices and regulated through Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), Medsafe and PHARMAC. If not intended as part of a smoking cessation plan then e-cigarettes should have the same restricted sale and accessibility placed on them as conventional cigarettes e.g. prohibit sale and supply in public places, not sold to under 18 year old’s and no point of sale advertising of e-cigarettes and e-liquids.
Until substantial evidence has been gathered on the health implications of e-cigarettes, the promotion of e-cigarettes by health organisations is irresponsible, unethical, and potentially harmful." - (Flint and Jones, 2017)