Government to regulate vaping

By Ripeka Timutimu

Associate Minister of Health Jenny Salesa says vaping has been an effective tool for adult smokers to quit and the government is drafting legislation to regulate it.

“We know from scientific evidence that vaping products are significantly less harmful than tobacco it should be regulated in a different way.”

But Dame Tariana Turia, a former Māori party MP and architect of the Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 policy, is questioning the government's move to support vaping as a quit smoking initiative.

“I don’t think people need to vape, I think it looks horrendous.  You know, you go up the street and they have great big clouds of smoke around them.  I couldn’t think of anything worse looking.  I don’t believe vaping has the impact and effect they are claiming.”

Vaping products manufactured from tobacco and heated tobacco products can be legally sold in New Zealand.  This comes after a recent district court decision ruled the products can be lawfully sold under the Smokefree Environments Act 1990.

Turia says vaping is another addiction, and Māori continue to die from smoking-related diseases.

She says, “ I think if we had 5,000 Pākehā people dying a year, the government would be looking very carefully why that is.  There is a certain amount of, dare I say it, racism in most of the policies of the government and who they impact the most on so I have no doubt that racism has played a part in decisions being made.”

Salesa refutes that and says her officials are reviewing research to find more effective ways for people to quit smoking.

She says, “I don’t agree that we disregard Māori lives, we know there are 5,000 lives that we lose to smoking every year.”