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Statement from Cancer Society on ATHRA

Cancer Society of New Zealand says a post on Twitter by Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association (ATHRA) misrepresents the organisation’s position on vaping.

The Twitter comment responds to a post on the CSNZ website which states “The Cancer Society of NZ is pleased to see the new vaping legislation passed with general cross-party support as it will help protect people from the harms of e-cigarettes and nicotine addiction while also supporting those who use vaping to quit smoking.”

ATHRA’s response states that ‘The Cancer Society of NZ sees the benefits of vaping and supports legalisation of nicotine’ and goes on to criticise Cancer Council Australia for not embracing vaping in the way it is implied that CSNZ does.

CSNZ strongly objects to this misrepresentation of its position on vaping and the attempt to create a division between our respective organisations. CSNZ wholeheartedly supports Cancer Council Australia’s position on vaping.

CSNZ does support New Zealand’s upcoming regulation of vaping and heated tobacco products. However, this support for the amendment to the Smokefree Environments Act 1990 is largely because New Zealand has had uncontrolled marketing of these products to young people and non-smokers for over two years – the result of a 2018 District Court ruling against the Ministry of Health and in favour of Philip Morris International.

In addition to CSNZ’s serious concerns about the implications of aggressive industry marketing, the organisation has published an evidence review about the known and potential harms of these products. CSNZ’s full position is summarised in its submissions to the Health Select Committee which were informed by the evidence review.

The CSNZ quote used by ATHRA is taken from a longer press release that contextualises the statement by explaining that the new Act will put an end to industry marketing.

The CSNZ press release makes the following points which provide context to the quote used selectively on Twitter:

  • During the last two years, e-cigarettes have been heavily marketed to children and non-smokers in New Zealand
  • The legislation attempted to get the right balance between protecting children and supporting people to quit smoking, and there is still some refinement needed
  • The protection of children requires a range of measures, including restricting the sale of flavourings popular with children to R18 specialist vape shops
  • The Cancer Society was pleased the Government has listened to concerns about the difficulties vaping is causing in schools and families across the country
  • Most vapes contain nicotine, which is highly addictive and can cause behaviour problems in children
  • This legislation is a vital step in preventing a new generation becoming hooked on these products and at higher risk of going on to smoke tobacco.

While it is correct to say that CSNZ supports the passage of this Bill, the organisation has several outstanding concerns about the new legislation.