David Seymour: "Māori are the national champions of smoking"

By Tema Hemi

New legislation to regulate vaping was introduced to Parliament today by Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa in an effort to balance helping smokers quit while not encouraging new users. ACT Leader David Seymour says, "Labour's plan to regulate vaping in the same way as cigarettes is the most damaging public health policy in a generation".

Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa believes the Bill's amendments will be most significant for Māori.

Salesa says, "The Ministry of Health actually did a co-study design last year where they worked with Māori women. We know that the highest smoking rates in Aotearoa is Māori women and what they found is that vaping is a tool that is very successful in getting our Māori women to quit smoking."

90 percent of vaping sales come from flavours but the Bill prohibits advertising the products and restricts the sale of specific flavors to R18 specialty stores. 

Salesa continues, "So the Vaping Bill is going to ban the sales of any vaping products to under 18 year olds. It also going to ban advertising and sponsorship of all vaping products. There's a restriction on flavours and places that are smokefree. They will also be vapefree."

But Act Leader David Seymour says that the Bill has no significance for Māori and that Māori will continue to smoke. 

Seymour says, "Look its a sad fact that Māori are the national champions of smoking in Aotearoa. They have the most to benefit from quit smoking tools but when the Government decaps vaping that means more Māori continuing to smoke."

Seymour also says that punishing tobacco taxes have been a deliberate attack on Māori. The tobacco tax is the biggest attack on Māori since the land wars. Its taking a billion dollars a year out of Māoridom and people are still paying the tax because it hasn't worked and they haven't quit smoking."

Salesa says in closing, "So 'The Vaping Amendment Bill' regulates vaping products as well as smokeless tobacco for us. The fact that it would actually keep our kids safe but at the same time it will also help smokers to quit smoking.  

Salesa is confident that the new vaping rules would be in place by this year's general election.