Some major supermarkets across Aotearoa are now selling e-cigarettes. Meanwhile excise tax on tobacco products have increased by a further 10 percent this month.

Progressive Enterprises, which own Countdown, FreshChoice and Supervalue supermarkets, has been trialling non-nicotine e-cigarette products across various stores since late December.

Like the Ministry of Health, Hāpai Te Hauora believes that e-cigarettes have the potential to contribute towards the Smokefree 2025 goal and bridge inequities in tobacco consumption between Māori and non-Māori.

Hāpai believes further evidence is needed on the long-term effects of e-cigarettes, but research to date shows that it is significantly less harmful than smoking tobacco.

Hāpai Te Hauora CEO, Lance Norman says "We support the move to make e-cigarettes more widely available. We acknowledge that there is contention over whether e-cigarettes are good because they help people stop smoking, or bad because they might lead some people into smoking ... but we believe evidence available to date supports e-cigarettes as a positive harm reduction tool"

"With our focus at Hāpai on harm reduction, we see that e-cigarettes have the potential to improve Māori health if they are used as a substitute by the 550,000 New Zealanders who smoke daily. This progressive and considered approach is shared by the Ministry of Health who have stated that switching from tobacco to e-cigarettes may be a way of closing inequities for Māori."

Our key objectives around tobacco control centre on reducing uptake and minimising harm, so it is promising that research is also showing reduced daily tobacco smoking rates among rangatahi over the last five years", says Norman.

The financial burden of smoking is becoming a rising issue with tobacco tax increases, which has the consequence of more money being taken out of the pockets of our whānau. While the overhead costs of e-cigarettes are greater than tobacco, it is likely to be more cost effective in the long term.