How the e-cigarette is helping New Zealand’s fight against smoking

How the e-cigarette is helping New Zealand's fight against smoking

Published on: 15/11/2023


The electronic cigarette as the main tool in the fight against smoking? The answer is yes and the confirmation comes from one of the countries that tenaciously fights the habit of smoking: New Zealand.

For some years now, the New Zealand government has been applying a harm reduction policy and, from this perspective, the electronic cigarette becomes a useful device to distance people from traditional cigarettes, whose negative effects on the body are well known and decidedly greater than those caused by e-cigs.

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New Zealand: anti-smoking laws and the tough fight against tobacco

New Zealand has been waging a tough fight against cigarette smoking for years. The law that prohibits those born on or after 1 January 2009 from purchasing cigarettes dates back a few months: fourteen-year-olds, therefore, will not be able to purchase cigarettes or other tobacco products.

The New Zealand Parliament approved the law by a large majority last December: 76 votes were in favor of what is intended to be a fundamental step towards achieving an ambitious goal, that of becoming a smoke-free country by 2025.

In addition to the ban on the sale of cigarettes in 2009, the law provides for other measures aimed at combating cigarette smoking and liquid nicotine addiction: the sale will be allowed only to relatively few specialized shops (from 6000 it will go down to only 600 authorized tobacconists) and the amount of nicotine in tobacco products will be reduced. We add to this that the taxation on cigarettes had already increased drastically for some time.

After Bhutan, which has completely banned the sale of cigarettes in the country, New Zealand is preparing to become the most restrictive country towards smoking. From this perspective, a bit like England, the New Zealand government considers the e-cigarette as a key tool to lead to the definitive abandonment of smoking from burnt or heated tobacco.

Read also: Electronic Cigarette Liquid Disposal Guide

New Zealand: anti-smoking laws

Because New Zealand considers the electronic cigarette a fundamental tool against smoking

In a context like the one described, the New Zealand government is using all possible tools to combat cigarette smoking and the enormous damage caused both to people’s health and to the country’s economy.

Since 2019, New Zealand has included vaping devices among the most useful tools to combat cigarette addiction, while emphasizing that vaping is not completely harmless. However, the government’s action is aimed at reducing the damage without relying on prohibitionism tout court.

In this sense, the data supports New Zealand. In fact, last year the country recorded the historic minimum of smokers: from 9.4% in 2021 it went to 8% in 2022, more than a percentage point less. If we consider that in 2012, New Zealand smokers were over 16%, the effectiveness of the government’s anti-smoking policies becomes clear.

Furthermore, in 2022, the number of vapers exceeded that of smokers: 8.3% versus 8%. A success if we consider that vaping has a much higher safety profile than cigarettes, as also stated by the director of Ash (Action on Smoking and Health): “We must remember that vaping represents only a small fraction of risk compared to cigarette smoking . 55 thousand fewer people smoke than last year: thousands of people could thus avoid cancer and heart disease.”

New Zealand, with data in hand, has therefore decided to use the electronic cigarette to push smokers to leave aside burnt tobacco and lead to abandoning the habit of smoking. To this end, the Ministry of Health has included e-cigs in the programs designed to help smokers quit smoking.

It was former Prime Minister Jacinta Ardern who affirmed, about a year ago, the crucial role of vaping in the fight against smoking: “We know that the electronic cigarette is making a difference, it is an important tool”.

To the words of the former prime minister were added those of Nancy Loucas, one of the founders of Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy: “If other countries have suffered an increase in smoking rates during Covid, our Ministry of Health has adopted a reduction strategy of the damage, pushing smokers to switch to e-cigs as a safe and effective tool to quit smoking”.

This is confirmed by further data which gives rise to hope: 80% of ex-smokers in New Zealand said that the e-cig helped them abandon the “cigarettes”.

Because New Zealand considers the electronic cigarette a fundamental tool against smoking

In conclusion

Although not harmless, the electronic cigarette causes much less damage than the traditional cigarette and can represent a very useful tool in the fight against smoking.

The choice of New Zealand, one of the strongest countries in fighting smoking, demonstrates this: smokers have decreased, vapers have increased and many claim that the electronic cigarette has helped them abandon tobacco.

Many countries should take countries like England and New Zealand as virtuous examples in the tough fight against cigarette smoking, one of the leading causes of death in the world.