This week, New Zealand will launch an oral nicotine product called White Fox, which is similar to Swedish snus but does not contain tobacco substance, and this product will also be marketed as a harm reduction product in New Zealand. In addition, the New Zealand Ministry of Health has been cautious about potential harm reduction tools in the past, but in the near term, the sector’s attitude has gradually softened.
Miles Illemann of New Zealand Smokeless Tobacco Company stressed that if New Zealand reads the history of smoking seriously, the country must provide a variety of attractive traditional tobacco alternatives to increase the people’s option for healthier products. The name of the company was changed to “NZ Smokeless Tobacco” due to the stigma attached to tobacco products.
In addition, scientific data shows that the product is very similar to the Swedish snuff “Snus”. Safer than traditional tobacco products. Illemann pointed out that although e-cigarettes have successfully helped many smokers to leave flammable tobacco products, oral nicotine products will be the most effective competitors of New Zealand’s major tobacco companies.
Snus is the most popular in Sweden, Denmark, and Norway and is legal and considered to be an effective harm reduction product. In fact, The Snus not only led Sweden to have the lowest smoking rate in Europe but more importantly, it also reported the lowest incidence of lung cancer in the world. A few years ago, the famous medical sports magazine “Lancet” launched the “2040 Smoke-free World” event. The magazine defines “smokeless” as having a smoking rate of less than 5%, and Sweden has achieved this through the introduction of the Snus.
On the other hand, the New Zealand Ministry of Health is about to promote the use of e-cigarettes as a safer alternative to harm reduction. This move marks a change in the position of the Ministry of Health towards tobacco harm reduction.
The event will be launched in August and encourages traditional smokers to switch to e-cigarettes. Websites that provide e-cigarette information and suggest risks of harm reduction are also expected to be available this month. Although the event will use e-cigarettes as a substitute for smoking, it will also prevent non-smokers from using it, especially those under the age of 18.
Although the Ministry of Health website has publicly indicated that it does not have enough evidence to recommend e-cigarette products as a smoking cessation tool, and those who choose e-cigarettes should eventually stop this practice. But an internal spokesperson said e-cigarettes are a safe gateway to the transition from traditional tobacco products to smokeless ones. “The scientific community agrees that e-cigarettes are much less harmful to tobacco,” he quoted. “It is likely to be used to quit smoking, and some large studies are underway and more information will be available next year.”
According to Smokefree NZ, 13% of New Zealand adults smoke daily, down from 25% in 1996-1997. Maori women have the highest smoking rate of 37%, followed by Maori men, accounting for 30%.
“If we intend to treat health issues of Maori, we need to provide cheap and effective products. Many smokers like to use oral nicotine products because they do not give off any vapor so they can be used with more privacy.”
The author has not been optimistic about the goal of “New Zealand 2025”. Due to the apparent shortage of tobacco reduction and publicity measures in the region, the Maori group with higher smoking population cannot achieve significant results. However, with the efforts of the e-cigarette initiative group and the research data released by several researchers from Australia and New Zealand, not only did the public health sector change its position drastically but even began to promote “tobacco harm reduction” products vigorously. This also made the 2025, which was impossible to achieve, a dawn of hope. “Tobacco harm reduction” is actually not just a slogan, which is evident in the smoke-free movement in New Zealand. Perhaps there are still many problems that need to be overcome at the regulatory level of new tobacco, but at least New Zealand has made the right choice in “profit and tax” or “popular health”. At present, there are many similar nicotine replacement products in China, such as nicotine patch, sublingual tablet, nasal spray, and chewing gum. This product has many contributions to tobacco harm reduction. And these products do not have any smoke, so they also give great help to the “quitters who are staying in public.”