Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy (AVCA) has welcomed the appointment of Dr Verrall, the new Associate Health Minister for New Zealand. Ayesha Verrall replaces Jenny Salesa who has lost all of her ministerial appointments following the general election.
AVCA was formed in 2016 by vapers across New Zealand wanting their voices heard in local and central government. All members are former smokers who promote vaping to help smokers quit – a much less harmful alternative to combustible tobacco products. AVCA does not have any affiliation or vested interest in industry – tobacco, pharmaceutical and/or the local vaping manufacturing or retail sectors.
As New Zealand’s new cabinet was being sworn in at Government House, AVCA congratulated Dr Ayesha Verrall on becoming the new Associate Health Minster with responsibilities for tobacco control and vaping.
“Dr Verrall is a public health expert and so having her around the cabinet table, after only being elected as an MP last month, is positive for New Zealand at this time,” says AVCA co-director, Nancy Loucas.
She says for those Kiwis who work in and around Tobacco Harm Reduction, Dr Verrall’s appointment is also welcomed news.
The new Associate Health Minister has already voiced her support for Smokefree 2025, noting the ambitious goal will require a lot of focus to achieve it. However, she believes it’s critical given New Zealand’s 5,000 preventable deaths every year due to tobacco.
“Dr Verrall has noted there are well-established measures to get us to smokefree, but the challenge and work ahead will be building a consensus around them. AVCA is encouraged that the new minister has already identified Smokefree 2025 as a focus, and we are committed to working constructively with her, new Health Minister Andrew Little, and the ministry to those ends,” said Ms Loucas.
In August, Parliament passed the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Bill.
At the time former Associate Minister of Health, Jenny Salesa, promised “to publicly consult on the regulations that will give effect to this bill. This will take place after the election and will provide businesses, members of the public, NGOs, and other stakeholders the opportunity to influence how it will be implemented.”
“With 200,000 vapers in New Zealand, and as an independent consumer advocacy group, we remain willing and able to share our perspectives to ensure the pending regulations are both workable and effective,” Ms Loucas added.
AVCA’s Parliamentary petition on vaping, which over 17,000 Kiwis signed, was formally accepted by Parliament and referred to the Health Select Committee on 18 August. AVCA awaits the new committee’s response to it.