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Smoke-free and vape-free advice crucial at point of sale: ARFNZ

ASTHMA and Respiratory Foundation NZ (ARFNZ) are urging that new Vaping Act regulations focus on the end goal of quitting smoking and vaping.

ARFNZ will prepare a submission to the Government to address key concerns about the strong focus on promoting vaping as a “quit smoking tool”, but very little to encourage users to quit vaping.

Public consultation is now open for the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990 regulations.

The review is calling for feedback on proposals concerning displays of vaping products in retail stores, the use of harm-reduction statements, and packaging requirements for vape products.

An ARFNZ spokeswoman said she had sent the media release directly to The Gisborne Herald following the Herald's recent article on the vaping regulations and a vape shop in Gisborne.

In that article, Gisborne's Shosha store said it was not waiting for new legislation and was already displaying warning labels on the products in te reo and English.

Letitia Harding, ARFNZ chief executive, said that although vaping was considered to be potentially less harmful than smoking, “we need to remember that it has its own risks. People will benefit most if they stop vaping once they are confident they will not relapse to smoking.”

Existing studies on vaping to quit smoking were not comprehensive and many showed that it could lead to long-term dual use, which might cause more damage to the lungs and heart than smoking alone.

Evidence also showed that transitioning from smoking to vaping was more successful when combined with intense behavioural support and advice.

“People need to transition completely from smoking to vaping if they are to benefit. They need a support plan and should receive cessation advice at the point of sale each time they purchase a vaping product,” Ms Harding said.

The Foundation suggests mandatory staff training in smoking cessation for all specialist vape retailers.

“People selling vape products should be equipped to provide advice on switching from smoking to vaping.

“Programmes such as the ‘Stop Smoking Practitioner Programme' (SSPP) qualification would enable staff to provide smoking cessation advice and direct people to long-term, wrap-around support service providers.”

Auckland respiratory paediatrician Dr David McNamara, who is a member of the Foundation's Vaping Educational Advisory Group (VEAG), also calls for regulation to control the display of vaping products.

“We must also do everything possible to discourage non-smokers, particularly youth, from taking up vaping in the first place.”

The Foundation says these regulations are a chance to find a balance between supporting current cigarette smokers to quit, while protecting youth from vaping.

“Ultimately the end goal should be for a smoke-free and vape-free Aotearoa” said Ms Harding.

Government consultation closes on March 15.