The Whanganui District Council has adopted its smoke-free policy and laudably aims to cut smoking rates by 5 per cent by 2025.

While not enforceable the policy "discourages" smoking in public areas and parks.

Whanganui smoking rates have increased to almost 20 per cent locally at a time when the national rate has declined.

Clearly whatever initiatives council can bring to the table to address that are welcome.

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The addition of vaping to that policy, however, is curious.

When vapers exhale they often release large plumes of vapour - mostly vegetable glycerin - which studies have found to be harmless to others, unlike second hand cigarette smoke.

But it is anti-social to say the least. Nobody wants to walk through clouds of anything, and council is right to want to discourage vaping in public places.

But those were not council's only arguments for including vaping.

Suggestions that vaping is a gateway to smoking borders on the ridiculous and certainly the misinformed.

As a smoking cessation tool vaping has proved far more effective than gum, nicotine patches and hypnotherapy combined.

The Maori Party wants vaping subsidised to help smokers quit and several governments, including our own, are considering it.

Vaping may not be 100 per cent safe. There are concerns over control of ingredients that go into the various flavourings, for example.

But studies show it is at least 95 per cent safer than smoking, and probably no worse than breathing in typical city air, complete with car emissions and other pollutants.

Council ought to consider amending its message around vaping. Linking it to smoking sends a misleading message when clearly it is the antithesis.

Vaping has and will continue to save lives and reduce health issues for people who choose to quit smoking.

It is imperative council's policy does not brand vaping as evil, but as a potential tool to achieve their stated goal of smoking reduction.