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