Health – Study highlights the urgent need for vaping education

Source: Asthma and Respiratory Foundation
Almost 40% of Kiwi students have experimented with vaping or e-cigarettes, according to a new study from the University of Auckland.
The study, conducted among 30,000 Year 10 students across New Zealand, shows that the number of non-smoking youth trying vaping has increased from just 11.1% in 2014, to 24.6% in 2019. Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ Chief Executive Letitia Harding says that this highlights some areas of concern that are not being addressed by current authorities.
"We see almost a quarter of non-smoking youth aged 14-15 experimenting with vaping as a huge problem," says Letitia. "Moreover, many are doing it without key information on the harmful effects that e-cigarettes have on the lungs, or the detrimental effects of nicotine on the developing brains of teenagers. The idea that vaping is less harmful than cigarettes is all well and good, but they are absolutely not without harm.
"We are deeply concerned about the lack of regulation around vaping, and the lack of emphasis by the government on the negative aspects of vaping. It is understood that youth will experiment, with alcohol and vaping among other things. But we also have several campaigns educating youth around the harms of alcohol consumption; there is no such campaign around vaping."
Health professionals and educators around the country are concerned with the rise in e-cigarette experimentation among youth.
"Vaping has the potential to get a new generation of young people addicted to nicotine," says Philip Pattemore, Associate Professor of Paediatrics at University of Otago. "The tobacco industry, which continues to market cigarettes, has controlling interests in the vaping market, and their business is based on addiction."
Letitia says that clarity is vital when discussing the health effects of these products.
"It is important that youth understand that "less harmful" does not equate to harm-free. When vaping advocates refer to the products as "safe", they mean in comparison to cigarettes. This can be both misleading and confusing if not explicitly stated, as it leads to the interpretation that vaping is harmless."
ARFNZ supports multiple expert organisations concerned with the uptake of youth vaping, including the American Heart Association, the European Respiratory Society, and the World Health Organisation. The WHO’s recent Q&A says that "there is no doubt that they are harmful to health and are not safe", and that "ENDS are particularly risky when used by adolescents."
"We can all agree that we don’t want youth vaping, or becoming addicted to nicotine", says Letitia, "and our upcoming Don’t Get Sucked In campaign aims to encourage critical thinking among non-smoking youth. We’re on the side of evidence and information, and we think our youth deserve to have all the facts."

Health and Education – Youth vaping study results are encouraging but effective education and regulation still urgently needed

Source: Hapai Te Hauora
A major study of youth smoking between 2014 and 2019 by ASH New Zealand and the University of Auckland shows that while some young people are experimenting with vaping, daily use of an e-cigarette is occurring overwhelmingly in existing smokers. 
Hāpai Te Hauora hopes the news will give some relief to stop-smoking practitioners who are using vaping successfully as a quit tool with heavy, long-term smokers but often feel under fire from media reports speculating on youth vaping uptake. 
The study suggests that non-Māori and non-Pacific are at comparatively low risk of taking up smoking and vaping, while Māori and those in less affluent communities are far more likely to smoke and/or vape. 
Selah Hart, CEO of Hāpai Te Hauora and Acting General Manager of the National Tobacco Control Advocacy Service hopes the study will also allay fears raised by NZ school principals from higher decile schools about a ‘vaping epidemic’ among their students. "In reality," says Hart "it’s those in less affluent communities who are at far greater risk."
Hāpai Te Hauora believes the study confirms the need for more targeted measures to support youth at risk of smoking and vaping and that different types of youth interventions are needed, to ensure not only youth smokers, but also youth who are switching away from smoking are well-supported, well-informed and in a strong position to quit entirely.
Dr Natalie Walker, lead author of the study has told Hāpai "We need to identify the groups that we most need to educate and support, and this study tells us who we most need to work alongside."
Hāpai is calling on the government to provide education and cessation services for youth who are most at risk from tobacco-related addiction and to continue to support research into how vaping is affecting youth smoking behaviours. 
Selah Hart proposes earlier education about lifestyle choices that can prevent tobacco-related addiction in adolescence and adulthood, supported by proper funding for mass-media campaigns. 
"It’s time the Government allocated more money from tobacco tax revenue — currently estimated to be around $2bn — to assisting communities suffering from generations of tobacco addiction and harm" says Hart. "Rangatahi should be arriving at high school with good health literacy and the ability to ask questions about tobacco addiction and why there are still people smoking. And if they are seeing vaping they should be able to recognise it as an adult-only, harm reduction activity."
Hāpai also wants urgent Government action to protect youth from vaping products, such as removing point-of-sale marketing displays. Says Hart, "Let’s reduce access, increase knowledge, make sure that we reduce any known harms associated with vaping and make sure the benefits to addicted smokers who are quitting remain."

Commerce Sector – Chamber thanks Lance Walker

Source: Business Central
The resignation of Lance Walker as WellingtonNZ Chief Executive will be a disappointment to those in the business community, says John Milford, Chief Executive of the Wellington Chamber of Commerce.
"Lance deserves our thanks for his two years at the helm of WellingtonNZ. He had come in at a difficult time in the organisation’s short history and has worked hard to ‘right the ship’ so to speak.
"Many acknowledged it was a difficult job with the on-going restructure and we can certainly say Lance will be leaving WellingtonNZ in a better position than he found it.
"Having worked closely with Lance over the past two years, he has helped bring our two organisations closer together to the benefit of Wellington’s business community.
"Lance has been a passionate advocate for the Wellington region and we certainly hope that passion continues into his next role.
"Lance’s decision to stay on until June to ensure a smooth transition is welcomed and we wish him well in his next endeavors."

Environment – Protests outside Australian Consulates over bushfires

Source: Greenpeace
Thursday, January 22: As the devastating bushfires continue to burn across Australia, Australian Consulates in Auckland, Wellington, and around the world are being met by protestors demanding more pressure be put on Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
This morning, around two-dozen people in Auckland, including actor Lucy Lawless and prominent climate scientist Dr Jim Salinger, lined up outside the Consulate wearing smoke masks spelling out the words "tell Scott to act on climate".
From 5pm in Wellington this afternoon, Extinction Rebellion has also organised a march from Parliament to the Consulate there.
The protests are part of a Global Day of Action, co-ordinated by Greenpeace International, that aim to hold the Australian Government to account over its continuation of backwards climate policy and significant dirty energy subsidies, despite fossil fuels driving the climate emergency.
Greenpeace New Zealand mobilisation manager, Abi Smith, says those taking part in the activities are standing in solidarity with Australians living through the fires threatening their homes and livelihoods.
"We’re here today for our friends and family across the ditch in Australia, and those courageous frontline responders, including many volunteers, who are risking their lives to fight these fires with courage, resilience, and dedication," she says.
"We need politicians to show the same courage. This is a climate emergency, and we’re now paying the price of years of failure by political and business leaders around the world.
"In Australia, at least 29 people have died, and an estimated one billion animals have perished in the fires. This level of devastation really is hard to fathom.
"In the knowledge that burning fossil fuels drives climate change, Prime Minister Scott Morrison is continuing to protect and defend the coal industry – the dirtiest industry on Earth.
"We are calling on Australian governmental representatives in New Zealand and around the world to put pressure on Scott Morrison and his Government to stop subsidising fossil fuels and immediately transition to clean energy. In the face of this crisis, leaders must act with humility – they must act for the people."

Consumer Issues – Diet and “detox” teas pulled from sale after Consumer NZ investigation

Several brands of diet and “detox” tea have been withdrawn from sale after Consumer NZ found they contained a pharmacy-only medicine.  

Consumer NZ chief executive Sue Chetwin said the teas contained senna, a source of sennosides, which are used to treat constipation. 

Companies need consent from Medsafe to advertise or sell products containing senna. However, none of the teas had this approval. 

Ms Chetwin said it was concerning companies didn’t appear to be aware of the rules. Senna can lead to liver damage if taken for too long, she said. 

The brands found by Consumer NZ included Healtheries Naturally Slim teas, sold at supermarkets. 

Three Healtheries teas were removed from sale following Consumer NZ’s investigation: Healtheries Naturally Slim Lemon Tea, Healtheries Naturally Slim Superfruit Acai and Blueberry Tea, and Healtheries Herbalax Senna Peppermint Tea. 

Other teas removed from sale included Senna Klenz, promoted as a detox tea and sold at health food stores, and a senna “teatox” advertised by influencer and personal trainer Sera Lilly on her website

“These types of products make various claims about weight loss or ‘detoxing’ but they can be little more than laxatives in disguise,” Ms Chetwin said. 

She advised consumers not to waste money on diet and detox teas. “There’s no good evidence these products provide any benefits and they could even do you harm.” 

Detox claims were also meaningless, she said. “You don’t need to buy a pricey tea to ‘detox’. Your body is already primed to get rid of toxins by itself.” 

Advertising or selling pharmacy-only medicines, such as senna, without consent can result in a fine of up to $100,000.

Consumer NZ is a non-profit organisation, celebrating our 60th year of helping New Zealanders get a fairer deal. In addition to our product tests, we investigate consumer issues and campaign to improve consumer rights. But we're not government-funded and don't take advertising, so we rely on revenue generated from membership to fund our work. Consider supporting us today. Join us, and become a member at

Shows – Icelandic Electronic-Folk Artist Announces NZ Dates For “Bury The Moon Tour”

Source: LiveNation
LIVE NATION & SECRET SOUNDS PRESENTS ÁSGEIR – AUCKLAND, NZ (Jan 22, 2020) – Icelandic singer-songwriter ÁSGEIR makes his New Zealand debut this May. The electronic-folk artist will perform two shows, starting at Meow in Wellington on Friday, May 8 and Auckland's Powerstation on Saturday, May 9. Having already shared two new singles, 'Youth' and 'Lazy Giants', from his forthcoming album "Bury The Moon" (out Feb 7 via The Label).

Tickets for all shows go on sale at 12pm Friday, January 24.

My Live Nation members may also secure tickets first during the pre-sale beginning 12pm Thursday, January 23 until 11am Friday, January 24.

For complete tour and ticket information, visit:

The lauded Icelandic artist makes music that penetrates a little deeper than most. As a potent Icelandic songwriter, his debut album soared to success in his native land, before English language edition 'In The Silence' connected with an entirely new audience. An artist of rare scope, sincerity, and emotion, his next step might well be his bravest, and his most enduring.  'Bury The Moon' – or 'Sátt', to give the record its Icelandic title – begins with escape. Ásgeir left Reykjavik to go and write at a friend's summerhouse in the Icelandic countryside.  He spent the winter writing, just himself and his guitar, abandoning the studio set up and full band affair that produced his sophomore album, 'Afterglow'.

At times, 'Bury The Moon' is a bruising, achingly personal experience, with shades of the endless isolation Ásgeir put himself through in that remote summerhouse.

In accepting his own imperfections, Ásgeir may well have produced his most remarkable work yet and New Zealand fans will be among the first to experience his newest album. Don't miss Ásgeir – live in Wellington and Auckland this May.

New Zealand 2020


Live Nation pre-sale begins 12pm Thursday, January 23 until 11am Friday, January 24
For complete tour and ticket information, visit: &

Economy – Life insurance sector explored in latest Bulletin article – Reserve Bank of New Zealand

Source: Reserve Bank of New Zealand

The aggregate solvency ratio of New Zealand's life insurance sector has declined in recent years, raising questions about the ability of some insurers to cope in the event of an adverse shock.

These factors and more are explored in the Reserve Bank's latest Bulletin article by Financial System Analyst Jinny Leong.

Life insurance coverage softens the financial impact of events such as death, disablement and major illness, allowing insured individuals and their families to maintain their living standards. However, life insurance penetration in New Zealand is well below the OECD average, which may be partly explained by the low proportion of savings products in New Zealand and New Zealanders' reliance on the government (ACC cover) to mitigate some risks that would otherwise be in the purview of the life insurance sector, Miss Leong writes.

New Zealand life insurers have a return on equity higher than the median, even after allowing for high expenses. The high expenses are driven by high commission rates, soft commissions, some policy replacement activity and a lack of scale. High expenses have a detrimental impact on premium affordability and value for money for policyholders.

The aggregate solvency ratio for the life insurance sector has declined in recent years and is low relative to other countries. Some life insurers operate with low solvency margins over the regulatory minimum, raising questions about their ability to comfortably meet the minimum requirements in the event of an adverse shock, such as further sharp falls in long-term interest rates.

The Reserve Bank began regulating and supervising insurers from 2011 after the Insurance (Prudential Supervision) Act 2010 (IPSA) came into force. The Act is being reviewed by the Reserve Bank, with further information to follow later this year. Alongside the forthcoming review of IPSA, the Reserve Bank will review solvency standards and consider the case for solvency buffers, with the aim of improving resilience in the sector.

More information:

Employment Issues – Cotton On: living wage banner unfurled in Manukau mall after four months without wage negotiations

Source: First Union
A large banner calling for workers to be paid a living wage was unfurled in Manukau Westfield Shopping Centre today, as multinational fast fashion chain Cotton On continues its refusal to negotiate with union members, despite ongoing strike action across the country and four months of its corporate managers blocking ordinary wage bargaining with workers, FIRST Union said today.
"Our members at Cotton On have felt the full range of emotions over the last four months – initial enthusiasm for the company’s promises and claims, disappointment at their failure to live up to them, growing despair at their low pay packets and now frustration that Cotton On won’t even sit down to bargain for fair wages," said Tali Williams, FIRST Union Secretary for Retail, Finance and Commerce.
"Retail workers have worn t-shirts calling for a living wage and demonstrated outside the company’s busiest stores, and distribution centre staff have carried out full withdrawals of labour that have significantly impacted their ability to supply goods – and that’s after exhausting every cooperative avenue we could beforehand."
"By now, workers have gotten the message loud and clear that Cotton On place more importance on telling the world how ethical and responsible they are instead of actually doing anything to live up to those values in terms of how they treat their staff."
"Let’s be clear – Cotton On are the largest global retailer in Australia, and they turned over more than $2 billion AUD in the last financial year. They have a workforce of 22,000 people across 18 countries, and every day they choose not to pay them a fair wage."
"Not only are they dodging ordinary bargaining sessions that unions have with every employer, but they’re also attempting to drive wages down to the point that new arrivals at their stores would be paid minimum wage – it’s a backward move, and it relies on their silence."
"Meanwhile, the workers who actually run their business and look after their customers are struggling to survive and being treated as disposably by Cotton On as the fast fashion they’re selling."
"While the company continues to block its workers from even discussing a living wage, it’s looking more and more likely that strike action will escalate over the coming year as increasing numbers of Cotton On staff join the union and prepare to fight for fair pay."

First Responders – Change in fire season status for Canterbury

Source: Fire and Emergency New Zealand
Fire and Emergency New Zealand are updated its fire season for Canterbury.
From midnight Friday, it is putting the region (Selwyn, Waimakariri, Christchurch and Hurunui) into a prohibited fire season.
Canterbury had been in a restricted season since the middle of November.
A prohibited season means a total fire ban, with any current fire permits for the area suspended from the date the prohibited season starts.
Acting Principal Rural Fire Officer Al Hutt says the region is very dry.
"We have already had a few vegetation fires get out of hand recently, and they have required significant resources to bring under control.
"It only takes a spark to start a fire."
Al Hutt says it is important everyone carefully considers the dangers when looking at activities involving machinery.
"These activities can often create sparks, and with hot, dry and windy conditions fire can easily spread."
For more information on whether you can light a fire in your area head to

Health – Nurse staffing crisis looming for primary health – Union

Source: New Zealand Nurses Organisation
The New Zealand Nurses Organisation (NZNO) says a crisis is looming in the Primary Health Care Sector (general practices and accident and medical centres) if funding is not increased to allow practice and registered nurse salaries to match those of district health board (DHB) nurses.
NZNO has been negotiating the Primary Health Care Multi Collective Agreement (PHC MECA), which covers more than 3400 nurses, medical receptionists and administrators in more than 500 New Zealand general practices and accident and medical centres. But NZNO Industrial Advisor Chris Wilson says an acceptable offer for members has not been possible so far because of the funding shortfall.
Early in 2020 NZNO surveyed its members working in these workplaces and 70 percent of respondents said they were considering leaving the sector because of higher pay elsewhere – such as at services run by DHBs. Many nurse leaders who responded said they are struggling to recruit new nurses or keep the ones they already have.
Ms Wilson says a serious drop in practice and registered nurses is inevitable unless things change, and this will make health care much harder to access for people in Aotearoa New Zealand.
"Nurses at these workplaces provide services such as vaccinations, patient care programmes and triage at point of entry. They also give medical or health advice, which often reduces hospital admissions. Fewer nurses will mean these services become less available or more expensive, and this will have consequences for health and put extra demands on the health budget."
Sector funding comes through the Vote Health Budget and is allocated to general practices and other services via the DHBs and primary health organisations (PHOs).
Ms Wilson says that while DHBs are paying their own nurses at the higher rates negotiated in the DHB/NZNO MECA, they are not passing on enough funding to ensure these primary health care nurses are paid the same. She says primary health nursing is just as complex as nursing in DHBs, yet it is being significantly undervalued by this obvious pay parity issue.
"As of May this year an experienced nurse covered by the PHC MECA will be paid 10 percent less than an experienced nurse in a DHB. That’s a huge difference and our survey respondents say this has significant impacts for their lives, including working extra shifts to make ends meet, foregoing holidays and family time, and not being able to afford a house."
She said NZNO members are concerned about what this means for their communities and they want them to know of the impending issue. They will be asking funding decision makers to recognise the value of these primary health care nurses by addressing the salary issue. They are hopeful funders will acknowledge the value of this investment in community health when NZNO returns to bargaining next week.
"The Government and the DHBs need to understand that underfunding the Primary Health Care Sector is just robbing Peter to pay Paul. Not funding services that keep people well just costs everybody more in the long run, and increases suffering and inequities," Ms Wilson said.
Quotes from the survey (anonymised but used with permission)
There is an impending crisis in Primary Health unless funding is improved
"It means we are finding it increasingly more difficult to recruit and keep nurses in primary care."
"I am tempted to leave PHC to be in a better remunerated job but then my passion is PHC … it’s very frustrating."
"This is my community and I care about it."
Underfunding sends the wrong message to a crucial health sector
"The message is clear: prevention /keeping people out of hospitals isn’t as important or valued as looking after them in hospital."
"I feel undervalued and unseen."
The community needs a well-funded Primary Health Care sector
"Our skill reduced the number of hospital admissions."
"The health care and education we provide not only improves health outcomes for individuals, but also for communities."
"We are the glue that holds the health system together. We connect many different services together."
"We look after not just the individual – it extends to the whānau."
"My direct nursing care has kept patients in their own homes rather than be admitted to hospital. Our continued hard work in times of disease outbreaks such as the Measles has a very direct impact on our communities."
"We worked very hard through the recent measles epidemic ensuring all those that were vulnerable were vaccinated, that those who needed the vaccines the most were prioritised, and fielded hundreds of calls from concerned parents."
"I know the work I do as a nurse in primary care everyday supports people to look after their health and their families so they can keep working and be active in our local community."
"Community and Primary Health is essential in keeping people out of hospital and keeping well in the community. This in turn will save money in the long run. I work closely with type 2 diabetes and we work together to improve their overall health and to keep them well."
The work is varied and complex
"I am an emergency nurse, educator, vaccinator, mental health nurse, paediatric nurse, palliative care nurse, surgical nurse, older persons nurse and much more each and every day for my community. I am the contact for the community and I am trusted and respected."
"We are the advocates, the life jackets and the bridge builders for our patients. We are the rapport makers, the listeners and the understanders, the encouragers and the teachers. See us, respect us and value us…..or ultimately, you will lose us."
"We see and manage patients that should or would have been in hospital earlier…"
"All up it ‘just doesn’t compute’ when there is a greater emphasis being put on keeping people well in their community."