Call for ban to extend to e-cigarettes

NEIL RATLEY
Last updated 05:00 05/08/2014
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They may be faking it but e-cigarette smokers could soon be tarred with the same brush as real smokers.

Invercargill City Council has been asked to consider forcing e-cigarette smokers to stub out their electronic devices as part of its smokefree policy. But a ban on e-cigarettes in parks, reserves and playgrounds is taking political correctness too far, a councillor says.

Councillor and community services committee chairman Lindsay Abbott said he was not happy with the recommendation.

"How politically correct do we get?" Abbott quipped from his chair at the community services committee meeting yesterday.

A smoking habit was harder to kick than a heroin habit, he said. "Smokers are already legislated against harshly."

Community development manager Mary Napper recommended the use of e-cigarettes be included in relevant council policies.

The use of e-cigarettes continued to normalise smoking, she said.

"It reinforces the practice of smoking as being acceptable and normal. This is of particular concern as it can contribute to young people taking up smoking."

There was no research available that confirmed e-cigarettes led to young people taking up smoking, however, public health units were keen to normalise smokefree and so were recommending that these products be excluded in relevant policies, she said.

E-cigarettes had recently become available in New Zealand. They were promoted and sold as a stop-smoking aid.

Those e-cigarettes did not contain nicotine but it was easy to buy nicotine e-cigarettes online, Napper said.

E-cigarettes looked similar to regular cigarettes and worked by vaporising liquid, delivering a mist to the airways when users drew on the mouthpiece.

Councillor Lindsay Thomas said e-cigarettes were developed to help people quit smoking. Going cold turkey was very hard so banning the use of e-cigarettes in outdoor areas would not help those trying to quit, he said.

Several councillors backed Napper's recommendation for the council to include e-cigarettes in its smokefree policy.

Councillor Lloyd Esler agreed allowing e-cigarettes to be used where smoking was banned promoted smoking.

Councillor Rebecca Amundsen said if people couldn't smoke real cigarettes in a playground, e-cigarettes should also be banned.

It helped spread the smokefree message, she said.

Councillor Peter Kett said the e-cigarettes looked just like the real thing. "A certain councillor was puffing on one in the committee room and was scolded by another councillor who thought they were smoking a real cigarette," he said.

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"It gives the impression, especially to young people, that smoking is OK."

Kett said he remembered when lolly cigarettes were renamed and banned, and e-cigarettes were much more like the real thing.

In May, End Smoking New Zealand chairman Dr Murray Lurgersen told The Southland Times normalising smoking was not going to kill people, but smoking a real cigarette would kill people, "in fact, it would kill one in two people", he said.

- The Southland Times

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