Cut health spend on smokers?

I had to read this headline several and opinion piece several times to figure out what Barry Soper was trying to say.

The Soap Box: Govt should put money where its mouth is and cut health spend on smokers

The drive is now on to have this country smoke free by 2025 – fat chance, but nevertheless it’s better to have a target to increase awareness than none at all. The smoking trend in this country is fortunately on the downward slope, even for the most prolific smokers, 18 to 24 year olds, who’ve kicked the habit with 24 percent of them still smoking, down 4 percent on 10 years ago.

Government subsidised quit smoking aids are plentiful, from nicorette chewing gum to patches and are available for a nominal fee for up to two months.    They’re now legalising E-cigarettes, and not before time, but for some unknown reason they’re resisting a subsidy at this stage for the nicotine liquid that goes in them.

If the Government’s really serious about making us healthier and cutting the health spend on smokers then it should put our money where its mouth is.

Soper is actually calling for a subsidy on E-cigarettes (that would be probably be controversial) presumably to help reduce tobacco smoking, which would reduce health costs, therefore the Government spend on health. That would take time.

Would a Government subsidy on E-cigarettes be a good social investment?

One possible ill-effect could be encouraging non-smokers to use subsidised vaping.

E-cigarettes/vaping to become legal

E-cigarettes have been available in New Zealand but illegally. Authorities seem to have ignored illegal sales.

The Government has just announced that they will be made legal. Research on risks is ‘still developing’ but using them is seen as safer than smoking tobacco so is a less unhealthy alternative.

Vaping products won’t be subject to the same excise tax that makes tobacco so expensive.

They won’t be able to be used in non-smoking areas.

Nicotine e-cigarettes to become legal

Associate Health Minister Nicky Wagner today announced the sale of nicotine e-cigarettes and e-liquid will be made legal with appropriate controls.

“Scientific evidence on the safety of e-cigarettes is still developing but there’s a general consensus that vaping is much less harmful than smoking,” Ms Wagner says.

“The Government is taking a cautious approach by aligning the regulations around vaping with those for cigarettes. This ensures cigarette smokers have access to a lower-risk alternative while we continue to discourage people from smoking or vaping in the first place.”

New rules for all e-cigarettes, whether or not they contain nicotine, include:

Restricting sales to those 18 years and over Prohibiting vaping in indoor workplaces and other areas where smoking is banned under the Smoke-free Environments Act Restricting advertising to limit the attraction of e-cigarettes to non-smokers, especially children and young people.

“This is an opportunity to see if restricted access to e-cigarettes and e-liquid can help lower our smoking rates, reduce harm and save lives,” Ms Wagner says.

“The Government is strongly committed to achieving our goal of a smoke-free New Zealand by 2025.”

All vaping products will need to meet quality and safety standards. The Ministry of Health will set up a technical advisory group to help define these standards.

A regulatory regime will also be established so the Ministry can consider whether other emerging tobacco and nicotine-delivery products should be regulated as consumer products in future.

“Public consultation showed a strong appetite for change so the Government is looking to introduce an amendment to the Smoke-free Environments Act this year. The changes will likely come into force later in 2018,” Ms Wagner says.

The Ministry of Health will continue to monitor the evidence concerning e-cigarettes and other emerging tobacco and nicotine-delivery products.

Some are happy with this, like David Seymour and ACT:

Government adopts ACT’s vape policy

ACT Leader David Seymour has welcomed the Government’s decision to legalise nicotine e-liquid without excise tax.

“Nicky Wagner’s office has confirmed to mine that nicotine e-cigarettes won’t be subject to excise tax. It’s the outcome ACT has been advocating for.

“This is huge win for smokers looking for a safer alternative. It’s a loss for the public health wowsers who seek to stigmatise any personal habits they disagree with.

“Excise tax on tobacco continues to be a serious burden on the families of smokers, and disproportionately hurts poorer New Zealanders who are more likely to smoke. The Government needs to reverse its recent extreme tax hikes, but in the meantime it’s good that smokers are free to access a better option.”

But not everyone is enthusiastic.

1 News: Nicotine e-cigarettes ‘just another ploy by tobacco companies’ -Tariana Turia

Many have hailed the move, but Ms Turia said the nicotine content was still a downside.

“I think it’s just another ploy by the tobacco companies. they’ve still got nicotine in them you know to keep people that addicted,” she said.

Hone Harawira has also had a grizzle about it.