Published on August 4th, 2016 | by Jimmy Hafrey
The United States may want to take a page out of New Zealand’s book.
Motherboard is reporting that New Zealand’s government is looking into reversing their previous stance on vaping. The country, which has banned vape products that contain nicotine for over a decade, is now seeking to relax their own regulations. This comes after a flurry of scientific evidence has proven its efficacy as a smoking alternative.
New Zealand has been strict about vaping regulations since the products were invented in 2008. Although the country banned nicotine-infused products, it has also welcomed scientific studies done independently or with government support that could better explain vaping and its effects. In fact, New Zealand’s government helped to fund a 2013 study that showed that smokers who were trying to quit traditional cigarettes were just as likely to quit the habit with vape products as with a nicotine patch.
The recent slate of studies that have come forward to support the idea that vaping is a safe way to quit smoking has also caused the government of New Zealand to reconsider its position. The country has gone so far as to put together a policy paper that highlights and outlines possible changes to the current vaping regulations.
“There is a lack of clarity about long-term health risks to users and the potential adverse effects on non-users exposed to e-cigarette vapour,” reads the New Zealand Ministry of Health policy paper. “At the same time, there is general scientific consensus that the exclusive use of e-cigarettes is significantly less harmful than smoking. There is emerging evidence that e-cigarette use may substantially reduce the burden of disease caused by smoking.”
This is by no means that discussing new vaping regulations will change the law, as the government will still have to vote on the proposed reversal of the ban. The Ministry of Health is still looking for public feedback on the changes and has not submitted a formal request to lift the ban to the government yet. However, it seems that the government has already agreed to allow the legal sale of nicotine-infused vape products.
This decision to reconsider vaping regulations in New Zealand is the exact opposite of the course the United States government will be taking come Monday, August 8, which is the day that the deeming regulations handed down by the FDA will go into effect.
The US regulations are even more strict than New Zealand’s current law and proposed changes. The vaping industry will be banned from giving away free samples and only citizens aged 18 and up will be able to buy vape products legally.
But perhaps the most restrictive law that will go into effect in America will be the pre-market review process for individual vape products. This is a long process that is estimated to cost vape business hundreds of thousands of dollars for each product. And, as we’ve written about before, will also include products with no nicotine in them.
The idea that New Zealand is considering overturning their own effective ban while the U.S. makes it more difficult to get vape products raises an important question: If, as many studies suggest, vaping can help a traditional smoker quit, what is the government’s reasoning for restricting access to vape products?
Perhaps even more importantly, there is a question of what will happen if vape products are effectively banned here in the United States, much like they have been in New Zealand. This is an important question that our country needs to think about as New Zealand becomes more relaxed and we become more strict on vaping.