STOCKHOLM, SWEDEN – July 11, 2024 – A new report from Smoke Free Sweden, a public health nonprofit, highlights the unintended consequences of Australia’s restrictive vaping policies. The report, “Quitting Strong: New Zealand’s Smoking Cessation Success Story,” shows that while New Zealand has seen a dramatic 49% decrease in smoking prevalence in just five years by embracing vaping as a harm reduction tool, Australia’s strict regulations have led to a thriving black market and stagnant smoking rates.

The report finds that an estimated 90% of the 1.7 million adult Australian vapers now access vapes illegally. This not only undermines public health efforts but also exposes consumers to unregulated products with potentially harmful ingredients.

Meanwhile, New Zealand has cut its smoking rates by more than half in just five years, reducing prevalence from 16.4% in 2011 to 6.8% in 2023. This progress aligns with Sweden’s longstanding commitment to tobacco harm reduction, where smoking rates have plummeted from 49% in the 1960s to just above 5% today.

New Zealand’s decline can be largely attributed to its proactive stance on vaping and other smoke-free alternatives. Unlike Australia, where nicotine vaping products are only available via prescription, New Zealand has made these products accessible and affordable to adult smokers. The report highlights that 78% of New Zealand’s daily vapers are either ex-smokers or dual users, demonstrating the significant impact of these alternatives in reducing cigarette consumption.

Australia’s prescription-only model for vaping has not yielded the desired public health outcomes. With only 1% of doctors registered to prescribe nicotine, and a thriving black market for unregulated products, Australia’s smoking rates remain stagnant at 10.7%. The restrictive approach has also failed to protect youth, with higher rates of underage vaping compared to New Zealand’s regulated market.

Dr. Delon Human, a global health advocate and leader of Smoke Free Sweden said: “Australia’s prescription-only model for vaping products has proven to be a failure. It has not only failed to curb underage vaping but has also made it difficult for adult smokers to access safer alternatives, driving them to the black market.