Hamilton City Council’s massive u-turn today to now include vaping alongside smoking as a prohibited activity in smokefree areas is deeply disappointing and will hinder not help the country’s Smokefree 2025 ambition, says a leading Kiwi vape entrepreneur.
“For the past 18 months Hamilton has been put up in lights as a progressive and smart city when it came to protecting its community from the dangers of tobacco all while enabling ex-smokers to publicly use a considerably less harmful alternative without being stigmatised,” says Jonathan Devery, owner of Vapo and Alt New Zealand, the largest Kiwi-owned vape company in the country.
“Sadly, that progress is now all in the rubbish bin. The Hamilton City Council’s latest amends to its Smokefree Outdoor Areas Policy at today’s Community Committee meeting were supposedly because of ‘new information’ coming to light. However, it didn’t offer anything substantial, let alone new,” he says.
Mr Devery says despite what the Waikato DHB and Cancer Society may have presented to councillors in June, including the council report’s claim that ‘harm caused from second-hand vaping cannot be ruled out’, Public Health England has categorically concluded ‘to date, there have been no identified health risks of passive vaping to the health of by-standers’.
“What’s more, Auckland University researchers reported earlier this year that there is no youth vaping epidemic among our mid-teenagers. It seems that Hamilton City councillors have also completely overlooked the fact that vaping is the most effective smoking cessation tool in New Zealand’s history, hence why our smoking rates are at record low levels.”
Global evidence proves vaping is at least 95% less harmful than cigarettes and is nearly twice as effective for those wanting to give up smoking than nicotine-replacement products. Vaping products are also sold in UK hospitals. Yet such facts did not make councillors’ reading.
“While smoking-related illnesses kill 5,000 Kiwis every year, there have been no reported deaths related to vaping, let alone hospitalisations, in New Zealand. However, Hamilton in its wisdom is now treating deadly smoking and our lead smoking cessation tool exactly the same. It makes no sense whatsoever. I suspect it’s probably because they kind of look the same, but in reality, they’re polar opposite.”
Mr Devery says it will surprise many that the Cancer Society is running around trying to banish vaping, when vaping has without doubt helped to reduce smoking related illnesses and deaths over the past decade. Further, the country’s DHBs have been overwhelmingly supportive of vaping programmes so it’s disappointing the Waikato DHB wants vaping banished from outside its hospitals and property.
“The councillors should’ve sought information from the Chairman of Action for Smokefree (ASH) 2025, Professor Robert Beaglehole, before making their latest decision. He has said to local media in the past that any vaping ban in Hamilton would cause more harm than good. Yet, the country’s leading and most qualified smokefree advocate was also ignored.”
The vape businessman says over the past couple of years, many other misguided council vaping bans have come into force up and down the country, and to date they’ve delivered no health improvements.
“The reality is banning vaping from the likes of city streets and open spaces does not improve one person’s health nor does it stop anyone from smoking. It only discourages smokers from transitioning off cigarettes. Sadly, Hamilton City Council’s latest move is based on snobbery, not common sense,” says Jonathan Devery.
A few months ago, Vapo opened its first store in the city at 314 Grey Street in East Hamilton, which has proven very popular with locals.