Many locals are interested in using electronic cigarettes to give up smoking, according to a Rotorua stop smoking service spokesman.
Associate Health Minister Nicky Wagner yesterday announced the sale of nicotine electronic cigarettes and e-liquids would be made legal, despite the fact scientific evidence on the safety of vape was still developing.
A spokesman for Rotorua’s Tipu Ora Stop Smoking Service said they had already seen an increase in people wanting to quit smoking.
“We’re already having a lot of success in helping people quit, and a lot of people have shown an interest in using e-cigarettes to help with that process,” he said.
In England, e cig are the leading form of quit-smoking aid, used by 35 per cent of smokers trying to quit.
Ms Wagner said if an e cigarette got approved as a stop-smoking medicine under the Medicines Act the Government may consider subsidising it.
The change is a big win for the vape industry as its products won’t be in plain packaging, nor will the hefty taxes on normal tobacco be applied.
A spokeswoman for Special T Discount, a Rotorua store which stocks e-cigarettes and vape devices, said the store had a lot of interest in the products.
“Just because it’s a cheaper alternative, whether that’s using them to give up or just to give them that nicotine fix,” she said.
She said a benefit to electronic cigarettes was they were available at different nicotine levels.
“They go from high nicotine, through to zero nicotine,” she said.
“People can slowly reduce the levels and wean themselves off, but it is up to our customers how they choose to use it.”
One of the store’s customers said she would rather give up smoking than switch to vaping.
A local man, who did not want to be named, said he has been smoking for 30 years.
“I probably smoke six cigarettes a day,” he said.
“I own a vape pen, and it actually already cut my smoking in half.”
He said he would consider using nicotine e-cigarettes to help him quit smoking, but in his view there wasn’t enough evidence they were safe.
“I put something into my body every day that I know is bad for me, dangerous. But it’s an addiction,” he said.
“We live in a more health conscious society now, so hopefully less people will take up smoking.”
Zoe Hawke, general manager for the National Tobacco Control Advocacy Service said it was thrilled the ministry had decided to take this “positive step in tobacco harm reduction”.
The Smoke-free Environments Act will need to be amended before any changes can
take effect. This is likely to be completed in 2018.
New rules for all e-cigarettes, whether or not they contain nicotine:
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.