A ban on vaping in the Matamata-Piako District will be detrimental to smokers looking to quit says the chairman of Action for Smokefree 2025.
The Smokefree Outdoor Policy is to be rolled out in Matamata, Morrinsville and Te Aroha CBDs on March 1, 2020, which includes vaping, and prevents smokers and vapers in certain public spaces and council areas.
Chairman for Action for Smokefree (ASH) Robert Beaglehole, said that by the Matamata-Piako incorporating vaping in a Smokefree ban, it is perceiving a negative image for a healthier alternative.
"This is a fundamental error. Vaping is much less harmful than smoking cigarettes and we need to do everything possible to encourage people to make that switch," Mr Beaglehole said.
"It is likely that this ban will discourage people from making that switch."
The Matamata-Piako District Council has decided to add vaping to their Smokefree Outdoor Policy 2019 in July, while in March Hamilton City Council made the same move, before reversing the decision after a backlash from the public.
In April this year, the committee consulted the public on the Smokefree Outdoor Policy, and only 15 submissions were made.
Mr Beaglehole said there is no evidence that the vapour from electronic cigarettes is harmful.
"It can be a nuisance I agree, and we need to educate vapers not to make those big clouds, but that form of vaping is becoming less common now as people switch to the smaller devices."
He said simply banning vaping because it may look bad is wrong, and that there are a lot of other things that look bad but are yet to be banned.
"We should encourage vapers to be more considerate and most of them are. There is no harm from second hand vapour, it is basically just little water droplets and should not be associated with second-hand smoking."
Mr Beaglehole said the overseas coverage of deaths associated with vaping has been misleading, and blown out of proportion.
"There are over 480,000 deaths related to smoking in the United States a year, and with vaping there has only been five."
"The US authorities have been irresponsible associating the deaths with vaping when actually it is inhalation of illegal cannabis oils and has nothing to do with quality controlled vaping liquids. It is a real beat up."
His compromise is for vapers to not cause massive clouds of vapour in those public areas, but for them not to be banned from the areas as well.
Matamata-Piako District Council said the intention of the policy is not to ban people from vaping.
"It's about reducing the general public's exposure to smoking activities and those activities that mimic smoking, such as vaping.
"Vaping was included because as previously said it mimics smoking activities and due to the lack scientific evidence to prove there are no long-term health risks it was included as a precautionary approach," Matamata-Piako council said.
"The Policy is not enforceable by Council staff but is intended to empower the community to model and promote appropriate behaviour in a positive manner."