NZ Ministry of Health announces strongest support yet for e-cigarettes

Posted by DrMendelsohn on 15 October, 2017

NZ Ministry of Health.jpgThe New Zealand Ministry of Health issued a strong endorsement this week for e-cigarettes:

'The Ministry of Health believes e-cigarettes have the potential to make a contribution to the Smokefree 2025 goal and could disrupt the significant inequities that are present.

The potential of e-cigarettes to help improve public health depends on the extent to which they can act as a route out of smoking for New Zealand’s 550,000 daily smokers, without providing a route into smoking for children and non-smokers.

Recent decisions taken by Government have increased the focus on harm reduction with an aim to support smokers to switch to significantly less harmful products like e-cigarettes.

The Ministry of Health encourages smokers who want to use e-cigarettes to quit smoking to seek the support of local stop smoking services. Local stop smoking services provide smokers with the best chance of quitting successfully and should support smokers who want to quit with the help of e-cigarettes.

'smokers who have tried other methods of quitting without success could be encouraged to try e-cigarettes to stop smoking'.

Expert opinion is that e-cigarettes are significantly less harmful than smoking tobacco but not completely harmless. A range of toxicants have been found in e-cigarette vapour including some cancer causing agents but, in general, at levels much lower than found in cigarette smoke or at levels that are unlikely to cause harm. Smokers switching to e-cigarettes are highly likely to reduce their health risks and for those around them.

When used as intended, e-cigarettes pose no risk of nicotine poisoning to users, but e-liquids should be in child resistant packaging. E-cigarettes release negligible levels of nicotine and other toxicants into ambient air with no identified health risks to bystanders.

Currently there are no mandatory product safety requirements specifically for e-cigarettes in New Zealand, however generic product safety standards apply.'

 

Key Messages

  • The best thing smokers can do for their health is to quit smoking for good
  • E-cigarettes are intended for smokers only
  • The Ministry believes e-cigarettes could disrupt inequities and contribute to Smokefree 2025
  • The evidence on e-cigarettes indicates they carry much less risk than smoking cigarettes but are not risk free
  • The Cochrane Review found that e-cigarettes can help people to quit smoking, but acknowledges that the evidence is weak due to little data
  • Smokers who have tried other methods of quitting without success could be encouraged to try e-cigarettes to stop smoking.  Stop smoking services should support smokers using e-cigarettes to quit
  • There is no international evidence that e-cigarettes are undermining the long-term decline in cigarette smoking among adults and youth, and may in fact be contributing to it
  • Despite some experimentation with e-cigarettes among never smokers, e-cigarettes are attracting very few people who have never smoked into regular e-cigarette use
  • When used as intended, e-cigarettes pose no risk of nicotine poisoning to users, but e-liquids should be in child resistant packaging
  • The Ministry of Health is identifying safety standards for e-cigarettes in New Zealand. In the meantime, vapers should buy their products from a reputable source like specialist retailers

 

Click here to see the Ministry of Health position statement on e-cigarettes

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