Marking a change of heart, the New Zealand ministry of health will soon start promoting the use of e-cigarettes as a safer alternative to smoking.
A campaign encouraging smokers to make the switch will be launched in August. A website offering vaping information and tips is expected to go live this month.
While the campaign pushes vaping as a way to quit, it will also aim to stop nonsmokers, particularly those under the age of 18, from picking up the electronic devices.
The drive represents a change in position for the health ministry, which has been cautious in its stance on vaping as a tool for would-be quitters.
Currently the ministry’s website states that it doesn’t have enough evidence to recommend vaping products as a smoking-cessation tool, and that people who choose to vape should eventually stop that as well.
Despite that, a spokesman described vaping as a safe gateway for smokers wanting to transition from cigarettes.
“There is scientific consensus that vaping is significantly less harmful than smoking,” he was quoted as saying. “It is likely vaping can also be used to stop smoking, but the evidence is still emerging. A number of large studies are underway, and more information will be available over the next year.”
According to Smokefree NZ, 13 percent of New Zealand adults smoke daily, down from 25 percent in 1996-1997. Maori women have the highest smoking rate at 37 percent, followed by Maori men at 30 percent.
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