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Health experts hesitant about vaping promotion as Government encourages smoking alternative

A new website along with educational videos have been launched by the Ministry of Health to encourage smokers to switch to vaping.

But there's concerns it's at the expense of other strategies.

Asthma New Zealand CEO Letitia O’Dwyer commended the one stop shop for information, but they are concerned it will normalise vaping.

That because the long term side effects, if any, are still unknown.

"What is of concern is that they are still saying smoking then vaping, when actually there are proven FDA medical therapies out there that should be tried first.

"There is concern around the lung damage that vaping can cause and there are more and more studies coming out around that. I don't think that's been stressed enough on this website," Ms O'Dwyer told 1 NEWS.

There’s concern from youth as well.

Napier teenager Bella Spiers has surveyed over 100 of her fellow students. She found 60 per cent say they’ve tried e-cigarettes and most who had, were unaware that the long-term risks are not yet known.

"A lot of people think just because they are safer than traditional cigarettes that automatically makes them safe."

She started a petition calling for more regulation in the industry.

"Vaping should be prescribed as something to help them quit smoking as opposed to having it freely available in shops dedicated to e-cigarettes."

Vaping shop Hawke’s Bay Vapour told 1 NEWS they have their own controls in place and would like to see more regulation

"We regulate ourselves, we have a list of rules that all our staff know. About checking for ID, not selling to anyone under the age of 18," Melissa Howard says.

The website does warn that long-term risks are unknown and that non-smokers shouldn't start vaping.

The Associate Minister of Health Jenny Salesa is confident in recommending the alternative to smoking.

"We know from evidence from Public Health England for instance, and the Royal College of Physicians, we know that vaping is much less harmful when it comes to tobacco smoke," she says.

Regulation of the industry is in the pipeline with suggested law changes going to cabinet by the end of July.

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As part of the Smoke Free 2025 quest, a new Government website has been released to bust myths around e-cigarettes. Source: 1 NEWS