Vaping shouldn't be included in potential smoking ban for Wellington beaches, expert says

Smoking and vaping could soon be stubbed out at Wellington beaches. But it would be a mistake to include vaping in the ban, an expert argued today, pointing out that it can sometimes be a pathway for smokers to quit.

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Hāpai Te Hauora’s Mihi Blair says vaping can sometimes be a pathway for smokers to quit. Source: Breakfast

Councillors are voting this week on a proposed plan to make all beaches from Oriental Bay to Owhero Bay smoke free.

Hāpai Te Hauora’s general manager of national tobacco control advocacy Mihi Blair told TVNZ1's Breakfast today that she takes issue with the current proposal. 

“We are actually very concerned about vaping being included in the smoke free ban," she said. "If we want to reach the smoke free 2025 goal, there’s research that is saying that vaping is a pathway to quit.

“We want to reduce as many barriers as we can for people wanting to quit smoking, and one of them that they have put in place isn’t going to be very helpful for us to achieve that goal.”

Rather than having a complete ban on vaping, it is about having good education out in the communities and understanding the etiquette around vaping, Ms Blair said.

To make sure these rules are enforced on the beaches, she said, “we need to make sure there is enough signage around the beaches so that it is actually abided by”.

She said smoking heavily affects our environment.

"It is our moana that are getting affected by cigarette butts.

“In Auckland, 27 per cent of our rubbish [on beaches] is tobacco and cigarette butts, and that’s a huge amount that is going into our water stream and on our whenua and on our beaches.”

Ms Blair said she would support a blanket ban in all public places.

“We need to have really good investments to do that, so we need to have really good support services for those who want to quit.”