Posted on December 14, 2023 By Colin
SMOKING IN NEW ZEALAND continues to plummet to record lows, according to the latest New Zealand Health Survey as smokers switch to vaping. Rather than learn from this incredible public health success story, Mark Butler and his Tobacco Control advisers are certain to completely ignore it.
The adult current smoking rate (monthly or more) has declined in New Zealand by 45% in the last 5 years from 2018-2023. During the same period, the adult smoking rate in Australia has declined by a measly 5% from 12.3% to 11.8%
The NZ experience is breathtaking. The adult daily smoking rate is now 6.8%. This extraordinary success is due largely to the legalization and regulation of vaping in 2021 which has been the only major tobacco control intervention in the last 5 years (other than tax increases with inflation). Smoking rates are declining in line with rising vaping rates. Both countries otherwise have very similar tobacco control laws.
The New Zealand Ministry of Health endorses and encourages vaping as a safer alternative to deadly smoking. However, in Australia, vaping is obstinately opposed by state and federal governments and Tobacco Control organisations. In fact, the federal Department of Health and Aged Care is spreading misleading and false information about vaping and is focussed on discouraging the uptake of the most effective quitting aid available.
Mark Butler claims that youth vaping is causing an unprecedented increase in youth smoking. However, in New Zealand, the decline in smoking is greatest in the younger age groups where vaping rates are highest.
Youth smoking in the 15-17 year age group remains at around 1% and smoking has all but disappeared
However in Australia, youth smoking is rising. Teen smoking rates (14-17y) were an extraordinary 12.8% in early 2023.
New Zealand provides incontrovertible evidence that vaping is rapidly replacing deadly smoking in both adults and youth.
Similar results are seen in the US, in the Monitoring the Future Survey 2023
Mark Butler’s continued restrictions on vaping in Australia are clearly based on flawed claims and continue to ignore the evidence. This is an outrageous ideological attack on smokers and will lead to untold preventable deaths.
I am calling for a Royal Commission to investigate this flawed and corrupt policy which is causing preventable harm to public health, in particular to the most vulnerable members of society
Public health policy should be based on evidence, not ideology and cheap political point scoring. Enough is enough.
New Zealand Ministry of Health, Annual Health Survey 2022-23
Current vaping and current smoking in the Australian population aged 14+ years:
February 2018-March 2023. Department of Health and Aged Care. May 2023