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New Zealand Anti-Smoking Crusader Promotes Vapor

New Zealand Anti-Smoking Crusader Promotes Vapor


New Zealand Anti-Smoking Crusader Promotes Vapor

Here in the United States and around the world, groups and people who oppose smoking are the same that oppose vapor. That may be changing in countries like New Zealand, where vapor is being examined by the government as a means of quitting cigarettes. This acceptance of vapor by anti-smoking groups shows a shift away from opposition to vapor to a willingness to work together for a world with less smoking.

Dr. John McMenamin is the clinical director of Whanganui's Stop Smoking Service (Ngā Taura Tūhono) and a general practitioner at Wicksteed House Medical Centre. Previously, he said, there had not been enough information about the health effects of vapor, but following a court decision to legalize vapor products he changed positions, arguing that vapor reduces the harm that would be done by smoking, and should be used to get people to quit.

"As a result of a recent court ruling, the sale of vaping devices and nicotine liquid is now legal in New Zealand," Dr. McMenamin told the New Zealand Herald, prompting his view shift toward acceptance of vapor products."Vaping to quit gives us another option to offer people and for many it will offer a very realistic way of successfully quitting. We're very keen for people to vape rather than smoke. The issue is that there is some harm associated with vaping."

In addition to heading an anti-smoking campaign and being an active general practitioner, McMenamin is also a former Ministry of Health's Primary Care Champion for Tobacco Control, he also chaired the Whanganui DHB District Health Board's Tobacco Advisory Group. This establishes the doctor as an influential and well-regarded anti-smoking activist in the country.

Vapers in Whanganui like Joel Leiva Benegas, who sells e-juice out of his house, told the Herald that it was good that people like McMenamin were changing their minds, but he was also critical, saying that the government was too conservative and slow to enact change.   

"New Zealand is way too slow," he said. "The Royal College of Physicians in London published a report saying electronic cigarettes are 95 percent safer than smoking. Their research had already been filtering out since 2015. We're talking about more than three years ago."

Leiva Benegas argued that most people already knew that vapor was a safer alternative to smoking and that people are going to use them regardless of what authorities say. He also said that the government should be more open to vapers when it comes to existing medical research.

While it may not look like much to local vapers, an anti-smoking campaigner changing his mind and promoting vapor is almost unheard of in the United States. The anti-smoking and anti-vapor campaigns have too often been one and the same stateside, and looking abroad for ways to change the minds of others, it’s these little changes of opinion around the world that point to an optimistic future for vapor as it continues to expand as an industry.