Professor Robert Beaglehole writes:
The Government’s strong support for reducing the harm of cigarettes by promoting vaping has contributed to the unprecedented reduction in smoking rates over the last year. Vaping is the most effective and cheapest available cessation tool; the Ministry of Health provides very helpful vaping information. The increased funding by this Government for mass marketing, supporting community-led initiatives, and controlling the illicit trade is also important.
Vaping is worse than not smoking at all, but it is far far far better than smoking tobacco.
Reducing the sales outlets for cigarettes, and making cigarettes less available than vaping, could be helpful. However, this will only work if the demand for cigarettes responds to the reduced supply. Given the high dependence of smokers on nicotine, we can’t count on a rational response, as shown by attempts to control illicit drugs, alcohol consumption and problem gambling. Policymakers must ensure that a rapid reduction in supply does not worsen inequalities and punish dependent smokers.
I’d say reducing legal outlets for cigarette sales will see a massive increase in illegal outlets.
Reducing the nicotine content of cigarettes to levels where they are no longer addictive or satisfy cravings is, in effect, prohibition and could negatively impact the mental well-being of dependent smokers. There are no real-world experiences with this policy, and its community-wide impact on quitting is unknown.
Prohibition has failed with alcohol, cannabis etc so why anyone thinks it will work with tobacco is beyond me.