2025 smokefree goals ‘a long way off’

By Taroi Black

Arnah Rewha, a full-time smoker is adamant she will switch to vaping if the Government addresses urgent knowledge gaps around the effects vaping products have on people in New Zealand. This comes as anti-smoking experts look for better outcomes for vapers.  

“The feeling of smoking, is a feeling or relief from stress,” says Rewha.

Rewha, a mother of nine has been smoking for 10 years and disagrees with NZ becoming smokefree in 2025.

“It has taken 7 generations for our people to get to addiction and for it to be taken out so fast and so rapidly that will turn people to something of a higher quality.”

A new report by ASH NZ and End Smoking New Zealand highlights the advantages for smokers to switch to vaping.

Rewha says, “I'll prefer to have vapes that have oils produced here in New Zealand and have more education around what safe vaping is.”  

“I think they've recognised they're not going to hit the smokefree goals they've had for 2025. They are a long way off,” says David Sweanor, adjunct professor of law, University of Ottawa.

Professor Sweanor is a health advocate whose urging the government to provide better information on vaping to the public. 

“They are particularly off with Māori population. When we have the rates of smoking in an excessive 30% with a plan to get that to 5% in half a decade.”

Hāpai Te Hauora is also leading the charge for Māori health organisations for smokers to switch to vaping and banning flavours won’t help reduce smoking statistics.

Mihi Blair, GM for Hāpai Te Hauora says, “What we do know is that flavours are really important in the interview to start quitting and if they ban it then we know they're going to go back to tobacco and who’s winning? Tobacco companies, not our people.”

This week, international reports claim the US have seen 19 deaths and over a 1000 others have suffered with lung injuries due to vaping.

But in Wellington the Minister for Health encourages all stakeholders to have their say when the Bill goes to Select Committee and addressing the lack of regulations for vaping and vaping products in New Zealand is the priority. 

“I do know friends that have tried vaping but they've gone back to cigarettes and that's due to the lack of nicotine,” says Rewha.

The Minister expects to put the Bill before the house shortly.