Maori public health organisation Hapai Te Hauora has hit back at criticism of vaping as a smoking cessation tool written by a Whanganui Chronicle opinion contributor.

Hāpai Te Hauora General Manager of Tobacco Control, Mihi Blair, said community members and the smoke-free sector are calling into question the article by opinion writer Jay Kuten for giving what they claim was a misleading and misguided stance on vaping.

"The writer draws a long bow in suggesting that Ministry of Health vaping recommendations should be called into question because they accept feedback from quality vape vendors on their expert panel," Blair said.

She voiced concern at claims of the risks of using "false claims", "deceptive practice" and "opinions of those with vested interests in vaping".

Mihi Blair Photo / file
Mihi Blair Photo / file

"Do you know who has a vested interest in vaping? Anyone who is sick of losing 5,000 whānau members a year to tobacco; anyone who acknowledges the growing body of research showing vaping is helping many to break free of their tobacco addiction; anyone who cares about our people. We all care- including those members on this Ministry panel- my question is, does this author?" Blair said.

Advisory group member, QJ Satchell, started his business, NZVAPOR, to support others to stop cigarette smoking after he was able to quit cigarettes overnight with vaping, Blair said.

"He has spent the last seven years advocating for whānau Māori who have been able to quit using vapes."

Hapai Te Hauora says Satchell's role in the advisory group comes from his expertise in the vape market and that his business interest isn't hidden - he has declared his interest up front and it's his commercial links which make his expertise invaluable to the group understanding exactly how the vape market works.

"Vaping is much more complex than what most people would know. It was important that the Ministry chose knowledgeable members from all aspects of this technical industry."

Blair referenced a randomised control study which found that vaping has almost twice the quit rates as popular cessation option, nicotine replace therapy (NRT).

"Combustible tobacco is the real killer, not vaping."