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Following New Zealand's latest overhaul of its vaping regulations and its U-Turn on its Generational Smoking ban, we talk with Jan Walsh and Nancy Loucas for a closer look at New Zealand's aim to be Smokefree by 2025 in this episode of GFN News!


0:00 - Coming up on today's programme
0:53 - What is NZ's smokefree goal?
3:27 - Can NZ expect new flavour restrictions?
4:43 - NZ's smokefree U-Turn
5:26 - What's making tobacco control worried in NZ?
10:15 - #COP10 THR clamp down


00:00:04 --> 00:01:25

Joanna Junak: Hello and welcome! I'm Joanna Junak and this is GFN News on Vaping has played a significant role in New Zealand's efforts to achieve its Smoke-Free 2025 goal, which aims to reduce smoking prevalence to below 5% by the year 2025. However, new vaping laws implemented in New Zealand in December last year are set to impact single-use vaping devices. What can we expect from these new regulations? Joining us today to discuss the current situation in New Zealand and the impact of the new regulations across the region are: Jan Walsh, a tobacco harm reduction advocate from New Zealand and Nancy Loucas, Executive Coordinator of the Coalition of Asia-Pacific Harm Reduction Advocates. First, let's welcome Jan. Hello, Jan. It's good to see you on the program. Can you tell us what's happening now in New Zealand regarding its vaping regulations?

00:01:26 --> 00:03:25

Jan Walsh: Okay, what's happening now is New Zealand currently has a legal and regulated market, which is working really well. We currently have a daily smoking rate of only 6.8%. The government has decided to kind of make a few changes to the current regulations around vaping. And firstly, one of the things it has decided to do is to change the names of flavour descriptors. So something that was previously called apple pie can now only be called sweet apple. They have also, given that they're trying to ban disposable vapes, decided to regulate what an approved vaping device should actually be. So one thing it has to do, the device should be able to turn itself off after 10 minutes of non-use. It should have a five-click on, five-click off stop and start, turn it on, turn it off. Most bizarrely, it has to have a removable battery cell. The actual battery cell should be able to be removed from the device very easily by the user. I think I think kind of like that is really the major issue with this because then we run the risk of people putting lithium ion batteries in their pockets with their car keys and the battery venting. And I think that's a really bad idea.

00:03:27 --> 00:03:33

Joanna Junak: You mentioned plans to change the names of flavors descriptions. Why is this important?

00:03:34 --> 00:04:41

Jan Walsh: Okay. The whole thing, I think, comes from the perception that there is some kind of youth vaping problem. And so that's why we need to get rid of disposable devices, which will also get rid of pod systems and basically a lot of the vaping market as it stands. And so the flavour descriptions, I mean, regulators always freak out at something that's called bubble gum or whatever. So now, as I say, apple pie will turn into something called sweet apple. Does that make a difference to the way it tastes? No. But it kind of presumes that children kind of want to – start vaping because of the flavours, which I don't think is really held up by the evidence.

00:04:43 --> 00:04:50

Joanna Junak: Let's talk now about experts' reactions to these changes. Have you heard any pushback against these proposals?

00:04:53 --> 00:05:25

Jan Walsh: I haven't seen a lot of talk from the experts. Our experts in New Zealand, our tobacco control people, have been more focused on the idea that our current government is getting rid of the last three changes to the Smoke-Free Environments Act, which was involving smoked tobacco products, and they were kind of more hung up on that.

00:05:26 --> 00:05:45

Joanna Junak: Thank you, Jan, for your update. Now let's welcome Nancy to the program. Nancy, thank you for joining us today. Jan has just summarized the current vaping situation in New Zealand. I wanted to ask you what influence this regulation will have in the context of global tobacco harm reduction in the region?

00:05:47 --> 00:10:13

Nancy Loucas: OK, well, the situation in New Zealand is interesting because the three amendments were submitted and were to come into play. And there's three of them that they are looking to repeal in March sometime. I think it's within 100 days of the new government. And the three amendments that they want to repeal are generation endgame, very low nicotine cigarettes and the reduction of retailers from like 6000 down to 600. Now, these are all going to be repealed. OK, the new coalition government has already said, no, we're not having that. Of course, a lot of the people in tobacco control and public health are up in arms about it. And it's been contentious because the messaging that has been coming from these people is that they're making it sound like they're completely getting rid of the entire smoke-free legislation. It's not. It's those last three amendments. And the basis for that is that, number one, generation endgame goes against the Bill of Rights. It's a human rights problem, okay? It'll be very difficult to sell a pack of cigarettes to somebody who's 41 and then somebody who's 40, okay? And it's just... It sounds, you know, when they announced it, it sounded really good. It was like, wow, world-breaking and all of that, obviously. I mean, Malaysia was going to follow suit. They pulled it because of the human rights issue. The UK is looking towards doing it, so it was groundbreaking. So I suggest that a lot of the angst about that is because it is being repealed and they wanted to be, I mean, the first, right, to do it. The very low nicotine cigarettes, the issue with that, of course, is there's only one supplier. And if you look at the business reporting and stuff about that, they're not doing well. So it'd be very hard to implement a very low nicotine cigarette requirement when there's one company that provides them. And if they go belly up, what happens? So it's not a competitive market. I mean, if other, if there was logically thinking, if there was a market for very low nicotine cigarettes, everybody would have a version of it. They don't. Okay. And then as far as the retailer cutting back on the retailers, there are already mechanisms in place that no new retailers can open up around schools and Mariah and it's, it would predominantly hit small businesses. It would predominantly hit immigrants and the Indian community, okay? And, you know, they are very much conservative voters. And yes, it probably is a bit of a play towards them because they're, you know, the new coalition government, those are their people, right? As I've said before, multiple times, the New Zealand regulations are good regulations. The problem is in the enforcement. Now, taking that and expanding that out into the region, that's pretty much what you're going to ask me for, right? When you look at the Philippines, everything they've done is based on what happened in New Zealand, and it's working, okay? There's never going to be one of these things where you snap your fingers and all of a sudden all the problems are solved. It boils down, it has to be a concerted, coordinated effort that includes not just know getting legislation passed and getting good regulations but enforcement education um and it's it's working i mean new zealand i'm sure jan has said to you our smoking rate is plummeted okay and when they talk about you know youth vaping rates because you know and we just got through like the cop and that was like the big issue is all the children the children the children It doesn't exist. You know, you're never going to have zero children doing something that adults do. It just doesn't happen. But that's kind of where we're at. So do I think New Zealand's a really good influence on Asia Pacific? Absolutely. You know, especially when you look at what's going on in Australia, it's a fail. And we all know that what Australia is doing is pretty much, after watching that COP, what Australia is doing is pretty much what they want, FCTC wants globally. And it's not going to work. And it's not working.

00:10:15 --> 00:10:25

Joanna Junak: Let's briefly talk about the recent COP10 in Panama. What are your thoughts, especially since some treats to tobacco harm reduction were apparently postponed?

00:10:27 --> 00:12:07

Nancy Loucas: Where does one start when thinking about COP 10? We, as a whole, people who are harm reduction advocates, the main issues were postponed to 2025. That's good. But watching that and seeing the way those people at the dais were responding to countries that wanted to discuss harm reduction and wanted to promote it, that was very disheartening and it made me angry. Honestly, it made me angry because harm reduction is intrinsically part of what they're supposed to be doing. some of the things that transpired during the COP and mainly from the NGOs. I was not impressed with what the GATC was saying and the Philippines giving them another Dirty Astray Award. For what? for promoting harm reduction, that's part of the treaty. Bullying countries, this is what we wanna do and you're wasting our time. No, they're not wasting your time. This isn't about you, this is about the countries. This is where people are supposed to get together and hash this stuff out, not just following your script. So it was maddening, absolutely. I was happy to see that it was a little more open than it usually is, even though it was maddening to watch. But, you know, I think they've shown themselves for who they really are. And that's something that we all need to capitalize on is like, look, here it is. They opened it up. We got to see it. Excuse me. Here it is. They opened it up. We got to see it. And it's not pretty. It's everything we thought it was and worse. And now we need to address it.

00:12:09 --> 00:12:25

Joanna Junak: Thank you, Nancy. Thank you, Jan. That's all for today. Tune in next time here on GFN TV or on our podcast. You can also find transcriptions of each episode on the GFN TV website. Thanks for watching or listening. See you next time.