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Public Health Bill delayed to September

Friday 16 June 2023 | Written by Matthew Littlewood | Published in Health, National


Public Health Bill delayed to September
Secretary of Health Bob Williams. 22013124

Legislation regulating smoking and vaping will not see Parliament until September.

Secretary of Health Bob Williams confirmed that the Public Health Bill, which deals with the country’s tobacco control measures, has been delayed.

It is now going to arrive in Parliament in September.

Jackie Rongo, who works with youth health issues for NGO Kōrero o te ‘Ōrau, said it was time the community held a discussion on the issue of vaping.

“On the one hand, you have the companies saying it helps reduce rates of smoking, but on the other hand, there is no doubt that they’re already targeting younger people to use them,” Rongo said.

“You still have some of the fundamental problems that were associated with smoking. We have to be mindful, that every day we delay our actions, we lose a young person to the addiction of this product.”

Rongo’s comments come not too long after the New Zealand Government announced a suite of restrictions on the sale of e-cigarettes, including banning most disposable vapes, not allowing new vape shops near schools and enforcing generic flavour descriptions.

Rongo said those changes in New Zealand were welcome, and would like to see similar changes here in the future.

Asked about the delay in the Bill arriving in Parliament, Rongo said “it is what it is”.

Meanwhile, Williams confirmed there had been progress in the past month in its bid to make Atiu a smoke-free island.

This included new billboards on the island and education at the schools about the hazards of smoking.

National Tobacco Control Committee lead spokesperson Tereapii Tumutoa has previously told Cook Islands News that he personally would like to see vaping banned.

“If we don’t do something about it soon, then we’ve got a problem that will take years to unravel,” Tumutoa said.

“Vaping is really dangerous, young people need to realise that it’s not a toy.”

Tumutoa said until firmer restrictions came through, the focus had to be on education about the products.

“A lot of parents are unaware of how bad these products are to youth health,” he said.

Tumutoa has said there needed to be a lot of work done in the outer islands, particularly as three of them – Atiu, Mitiaro and Mauke – were working on becoming smokefree by 2025, while the Tobacco Control Action Plan aimed to reduce prevalence of current tobacco use among adults and youths by 30 per cent by 2031.