Anti-vaping campaign will only send young people back to smoking

“By stoking anti-vaping hysteria, the New Zealand Asthma and Breathing Foundation will only send more minors back to smoking and jeopardize the country’s decade-long Smokefree 2025 ambition,” says Nancy Loucas, executive coordinator of the Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm. reduction advocates (CAPHRA).

Ms Loucas’ comments follow the launch by the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation (ARFNZ) of a video series called Spotlight on Vaping. He claims that “New Zealand is experiencing an epidemic of vaping among young people”. Along with the Association of Head Teachers of New Zealand (SPANZ), she also claims that more than a quarter of students vaped in the past week.

“What these sensationalized numbers don’t take into account is that if 26% of students had in fact vaped in the past week, many would just be trying it, and two, almost all would have smoked lethal cigarettes a while ago. has a generation,” says Loucas.

According to CAPHRA, while smoking-related illnesses kill around 5,000 New Zealanders each year, vaping is believed to have caused no deaths in the country. In fact, vaping has been widely credited with contributing positively to falling smoking rates in New Zealand. The overall adult daily smoking rate has fallen from 18% in 2006/07 to 9.4% in 2020/21.

“What ARFNZ fails to mention is that the ASH Year 10 Snapshot 2021 survey, which they selectively refer to, confirms that vaping is not hooking non-smokers. In this survey, only 3% of those who vape daily have never smoked. Also, while many may try it, very few become regular vapers, especially non-smoking college students,” she says.

Ms Loucas said while ARFNZ made headlines shouting ‘youth vaping epidemic‘, researchers at the University of Auckland in 2020 came to a different conclusion: ‘Our findings do not support the notion of a so-called vaping epidemic in New Zealand or a large population of young people addicted to vaping.

“While no one wants young people to vape, we are not seeing an ‘epidemic’ as ARFNZ would have the public believe.

“ARFNZ should focus on the real problem: smoking. This is what causes disease and kills Kiwis, not vaping. In fact, Public Health England remains convinced that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking combustible cigarettes. ARFNZ has also completely lost its focus with its new nicotine obsession,” she says.

Ms Loucas said ARFNZ’s latest anti-vaping campaign is at odds with the New Zealand Ministry of Health and the wider health sector’s adoption of a tobacco harm reduction strategy (THR), supporting vaping as the primary smoking cessation tool.

“ARFNZ seems to forget that Parliament and health officials went through an exhaustive process, considering all the evidence and having all the debate. The ultimate conclusion was to regulate vaping, penalizing it R18, banning all advertising, and limiting flavors in mass retail. A huge effort has been made since 2020 to make vaping less attractive and much harder to access for young people.

“The question then being, if all these young people are accessing vaping products, we need to know where and why and deal with it at the point of sale, in accordance with the law. Moreover, if parents see their children using the products, then it is up to them to take responsibility as parents and not blame the products themselves.

“New Zealand has Smokefree 2025 in its sights, but a vocal minority like ARFNZ are doing their best to sabotage it with unsupported hysteria. If New Zealand is to be the envy of the world , achieve an overall smoking rate of 5% or less, so let’s not attack what will enable such success,” says Nancy Loucas.

A global collaboration of THR consumer groups, sCOPe, has launched a comprehensive library of panel discussions and online presentations. To access the SCOPe online library, visit

For a free digital media repository on tobacco harm reduction in Asia-Pacific – including press releases, images and graphics – please visit

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