With Nancy Loucas: Policies in New Zealand and Australia
On September 20th, 2023, the Global Tobacco and Nicotine Forum (GTNF) entered its second day, and 2FIRSTS engaged in a conversation with Nancy Loucas, the Public Health Policy and Executive Coordinator for CAPHRA from New Zealand. Nancy provided an overview of tobacco and e-cigarette regulations in New Zealand and Australia, highlighting the differences in their approaches to issues such as youth smoking rates, new legislation, and the handling of black market tobacco.
Firstly, Nancy evaluates the latest tobacco and e-cigarette regulations proposed by the New Zealand government, describing them as an attempt to reduce smoking rates in a more innovative and progressive way. The new regulations focus on protecting children, but the actual issues lie more in the enforcement of laws rather than the e-cigarette products themselves. She emphasizes that the core problem is not the e-cigarettes themselves, but rather how to better enforce existing laws.
New Zealand has recently implemented the "Generational End Game" policy, aimed at reducing smoking rates in the long term. However, there seems to be an overlap with the new legislation in place. Nancy argues that considering New Zealand's current low rates of teenage smoking, these new regulations might be excessive. Nonetheless, she believes that such legislation appears appealing and could have a positive impact.
In addition, Nancy pointed out that there are obvious differences in e-cigarette policies between Australia and New Zealand. Compared to Australia's conservative approach, New Zealand demonstrates a more open and progressive strategy. Interestingly, despite implementing a stricter medical model, Australia's smoking rates have remained stagnant or even risen, while New Zealand has successfully reduced smoking rates. This to some extent reflects the effectiveness of the policies implemented.
During the final stage of the conversation, Nancy criticized Australia's prescription model for e-cigarettes. This model treats regular consumers as patients or addicts, with doctors urging them to quit smoking, which ordinary consumers are often reluctant to accept. She also proposed that, in certain circumstances, people should be allowed to obtain e-cigarettes through medical means, especially for groups with a high demand for e-cigarettes, such as patients receiving treatment in mental health institutions. Policymakers should fully consider these special circumstances.
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