“New Zealand smokers will who can least afford it will spend more on their habit and in turn do harm to those around them if the Government mandates lower nicotine in tobacco,” she said. “We knew this Government was dim but trying to wean smokers off nicotine by making them smoke more tar takes the cake.”
Chhou highlighted that low income nationals will be hit the hardest. “And we know Labour won’t cut taxes, so they’ll be increasing the tax on nicotine by a factor of 20, hitting poorer New Zealanders hardest. As a former smoker I have to say I’m sick and tired of this Government trying to socially engineer us into changing our behaviour.”
She added that those smokers who are reluctant to quit will do anything possible to consume the same amount of nicotine. “A few smokers may behave just as the backers of this never-before-tried policy are supposed to and wean themselves off cigarettes and on to less harmful alternatives, but without doubt some will do everything they can to smoke more for the same hit. Some of those people will have responsibilities to little children, and they will suffer in the long run, creating a greater burden for the already stretched child welfare system.”
There is no scientific evidence indicating that reducing nicotine decreases addiction
She added that there is no scientific evidence indicating that reducing nicotine levels is a viable solution. “Where’s the research that says this is a sensible policy that won’t cost us all more in social impacts than it saves in healthcare? There’s a strong argument too that this will drive up the trade of black market tobacco with high nicotine, driving those addicted to cigarettes to turn to crime to feed their habit. The gangs will be rubbing their hands with glee. This reeks of a poorly thought out feel-good policy with numerous potential negative downsides – classic Labour.”
Sadly, data from Europe where such a cap has already been set, support Chhou’s arguments. After a 20mg nicotine cap was set by the EU TPD, researchers found that smokers who were trying to quit and were forced to consume lower levels of nicotine than they were used to, resorted to using the products more often than they normally would, which means that ultimately they were consuming more toxins. Others simply reverted to using more harmful tobacco products which had no restrictions imposed on them.
Read Further: Scoop