A good report from ASH on how the Government could achieve its Smokefree 2025 goals, focusing on lower risk products. Their summary:
we advocate a surge strategy based on driving down smoking by facilitating smokers to switch to smokefree alternatives such as vaping products, heated tobacco and smokeless tobacco products. These smokefree alternatives present much lower health risks compared to cigarettes and with the right tax structure can ease financial pressures on smoking households, mitigating both health and economic inequities
So would improve the health and finances of low income households with smokers.On the issue of regulation they say:
Effective regulation involves striking a balance between measures that are so weak they do not have the intended effect and measures that are so excessive that they cause unintended harm. For example, by obstructing smokers switching from smoking by making smokefree alternatives more expensive, less appealing, or more difficult to access. The way to strike this balance is to adopt risk-proportionate regulation. This imposes regulatory burdens and controls in proportion to the risk posed by the product, but also taking account of the opportunities it offers.
So these alternate products should be regulated, but less regulated than cigarettes.
They note the average smoker now pays $3,310 a year in excise tax, a 50% increase since 2011. They also note that Maori have paid more in excise taxes in two years than the total Treaty settlements over the last 25 years.
They also calculate a pack a day smoker who switches to vaping would reduce the cost to them from $9,000 a year to around $900.
Their recommendations include:
- Control, rather than prohibit, advertising of low-risk alternatives to smoking such as e-cigarettes
- Allow owners and managers of premises to determine policy on use of non-combustible tobacco and nicotine products.
- Introduce a proportionate notification regime and avoid a pre-market authorisation system.
- Require plain packaging for combustible products, but not for smokefree products.
- Develop a risk-proportionate taxation regime for nicotine products with the highest taxes on cigarettes and very low or zero taxes on smokefree alternatives.
- Encourage public health authorities and the Ministry of Health to provide pragmatic user-centric advice on e-cigarettes and other reduced-risk products.
I hope the Government takes heed of this report.