Don’t get sucked into the website’s vaping claims


Launched to much fanfare two years ago, the ‘Don’t Get Sucked In’ website has failed to attract or resonate with young people and for good reason,” says Nancy Loucas, Executive Coordinator of the Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (CAPHRA).

Nancy Loucas

CAPHRA has now audited the vaping website set up by the Asthma and Respiration Foundation of New Zealand (ARFNZ). CAPHRA concludes that the site chooses science and does not provide the complete picture of vaping. More seriously, it makes false and misleading claims about the safety of products that save the lives of thousands of former Kiwi smokers every year.

Ms Loucas says that if vapers or their families and friends are looking for a credible website, they should visit the Department of Health’s own site

When the Vaping Facts site launched in 2019, ARFNZ praised the ministry, but CAPHRA notes that in less than a year, ARFNZ launched its own vaping “facts” site, undermining the government’s position and confusing consumers.

“New Zealand has a tobacco harm reduction (THR) strategy that is working, with the country’s overall smoking rate at an all-time high. With the Government’s renewed focus on Smokefree Aotearoa 2025 – where five per cent less smoke – smokefree is now a real possibility. Unfortunately, ARFNZ is doing its best to scare our remaining smokers away from switching to a considerably safer option,” she says.

Ms Loucas says CAPHRA’s audit looked at the main allegations made on the “Don’t Get Sucked In” website.

False or misleading claims include that nicotine can harm the brains of adolescents, children, and fetuses; vapor from e-cigarettes can contain potentially harmful substances such as formaldehyde, carcinogenic chemicals and heavy metals; children and adults have been poisoned by swallowing e-liquid or absorbing it through the skin or eyes; and e-cigarettes have been linked to thousands of cases of serious lung injury.

“If any of these statements were combined, do you think the New Zealand Ministry of Health and Maori healthcare providers would actively encourage smokers, including pregnant women, to switch to vaping as a tool? effective in quitting smoking?

Ms Loucas says that internationally there is a range of peer-reviewed scientific studies and position statements from the NHS, which thoroughly debunk the many myths peddled by the ARFNZ. CAPHRA has compiled a comprehensive evidence-based research brief that it shares with all interested parties.

“If ARFNZ were playing with a straight bat, their website would give vaping proper context in relation to lethal smoking. It fails to state that no New Zealanders died from vaping, and there is certainly no mention that Public Health England remains adamant that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking combustible cigarettes.

“Let’s fight with facts, don’t prolong emotion. The ARFNZ creates a hysteria that does not exist. He claims to be on an education campaign, but it’s nothing more than a witch hunt,” she says.

The Smoke-Free Environments and Controlled Products (Smoked Tobacco) Amendment Bill is now about to pass Parliament. Ms Loucas said MPs, health officials, the media and the public must keep their eyes on the prize and not let figures like ARFNZ hijack the debate and try to challenge vaping legislation of the country which was well covered in 2020.

“ARFNZ must focus on the specific provisions of the Tobacco Control Bill which seek to stamp out the deadly tobacco epidemic. Instead, they’re willing to waste everyone’s time by continuing to interfere, scare, and obsess over vaping,” she says.

Smoking-related diseases kill about 5,000 Kiwis every year. CAPHRA thinks ARFNZ should focus their work on reducing this horrible number.

“ARFNZ should partner with the country’s decade-long anti-tobacco ambition and successful THR strategy. Not only does it work, but it is the envy of much of the world,” says Nancy Loucas.

With over 15,000 testimonials, CAPHRA calls on those who quit smoking with smokeless nicotine alternatives to tell their stories at

For a free digital media repository on tobacco harm reduction in Asia-Pacific – including press releases, images and graphics – please visit


The Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Advocates (CAPHRA) is a regional alliance of tobacco harm reduction advocacy organizations. Its mission is to educate, advocate and represent the right of adult consumers of alternative nicotine to access and use products that reduce the harms of smoking.

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