So what happens when those watchdogs become indecisive? Even more dangerous; what happens if they watch something unfold right before their eyes and actually decide not to act?
There is no doubt that the rise of the electronic cigarette industry struck government agencies all over the world off guard. They are pretty quick to agree to that. But these electronic devices are not new anymore. They have been readily available for over 10 years.
Multiple studies have been performed, multiple results have been published and millions of people have lived the results that e-cigarettes offer. Yet still, after all this time there is no call from our governors.
Recently Professor Marewa Glover, Director of End Smoking NZ and one of NZ’s longest serving and most esteemed Nicotine Harm Reduction advocates called for the NZ government to help ease access to nicotine based e-cigarettes by introducing a program that could allow people to purchase the products.
Studies regularly show that e-cigarettes are far less harmful than combustible cigarettes. Yet as recent as June 2015 the Ministry of Health revised its guidelines AND MADE NO CHANGE!
“New Zealanders should have the right to access these products if that is what they want to try” said QJ Satchell, Managing Director of NZVAPOR. “Studies are proving benefits that can change peoples lives and that has a direct impact on their loved ones as well. We all know how destructive smoking is, so why are our people compelled by law to continue to smoke. Imagine if cigarettes were introduced to the world now, they would be outlawed immediately, but because of dated laws and inaction from our leaders that is the product we are being pushed towards”.
So there is now a product that studies are regularly showing is far less harmful than smoking, but we have laws in place that drive consumers towards a product that kills 50% of its users (see www.smokefree.org.nz/face-facts ). We also have a government watchdog that is employed to help manage the health of our people, but are failing to act, even with all the information.
The question here is: With all the information that is available, is it legal for the NZ government to exercise non-action, passive-aggressively pushing it’s people towards harmful products when they know there is a suitable replacement?
The simple act of not acting can leave any one of us in a position of prosecution. If you know details of how a person has hurt someone else but you do not tell authorities, you are withholding information. If you work for a company who knows it’s products are harmful and do not blow the whistle, you are also in the line for prosecution. The government should be no different on that front.