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New Zealand considers lifting nicotine ban in surprise move

New Zealand vapers are on the brink of a dramatic victory as the country’s Ministry of Health looks at new options for regulating electronic cigarettes. Right now the law is a confusing mess. It’s legal to sell e-cigarettes and non-nicotine liquids to adults, but any liquid, cartomiser or disposable containing nicotine derived from tobacco is banned. Vapers can import them for personal use, but they can’t be sold in New Zealand. As advocates like Professor Marewa Glover have pointed out, that’s a serious problem for indigenous people – who often don’t have the internet access or credit cards required to order from overseas.

Now the government has announced that, thanks to new evidence showing that vapour products are much safer than tobacco and appear to help smokers quit, they’re considering a more liberal approach. The backdrop to this is the repeal of New Zealand’s Medicines Act, which controls nicotine as a medicine. The plan is to replace the act with a more modern and flexible set of regulations, and in the process the ministry is looking at liberalising the law on vaping.

The next stage is a public consultation, which will close on the 12th of September. If all goes well with that, New Zealand smokers – especially those who can’t order online – will soon find it much easier to get their hands on a safer alternative.

Antrim drunk driver claims vaping put him over the limit

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A Northern Ireland man accused of driving under the influence is claiming that vaporised alcohol from his e-cigarette was responsible for his positive breath test. Aaron Galbraith, of Ballymena, was arrested last November with an alcohol reading of 65; the legal limit is 35. Galbraith claims he hadn’t drunk any alcohol and that his vape gear is to blame.

On the surface this seems plausible – propylene glycol, a major component in almost all e-liquids, is an alcohol. However the chemistry doesn’t seem to support Galbraith’s claims. Modern breath-testing equipment doesn’t detect alcohols in general; it’s specifically designed to detect ethanol.

Just to add more woes to Galbraith’s situation, a recent study by Yale University School of Medicine – which claims to show that vaping can have an effect on motor skills – actually demonstrated exactly the opposite. A group of volunteers who vaped liquid containing 23.5% ethanol were found to have no detectable alcohol in their blood, and performed better on a test of dexterity than the control group. Galbraith’s lawyer is bringing in a scientist to present evidence at the hearing, which will probably be next month, but any link between vaping and high blood alcohol seems unlikely.

US vape shops start to close as deeming approaches

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With only a few days to go until the FDA’s Deming Regulations come into effect, vapers across the USA are already seeing their options dwindle as hundreds of shops prepare to close their doors. Draconian new restrictions will make it impossible for shops to help customers set up their equipment, as any modifications they carry out – even changing a coil – risk being classed as “manufacturing”. With the range of products on the market likely to fall by around 99%, many vendors simply don’t see any way to make a profit under the new regime.

Shannon Farris of Lubbock, Texas, told Vaping Post that the local shop which helped her switch from smoking to vaping is one of those closing. Hub City Vapors will be shutting its doors for good on the 8th of August, the day the new rules become law. “There are others in town that are hanging on,” Farris said, “But I don’t know how long they’ll last.”

One reason Hub City decided to call it a day is that they buy e-liquid in bulk and bottle it in their own facility. The FDA have decided that this makes them a manufacturer, so each flavour and strength of liquid they sell would need a separate approval costing upwards of a million dollars. No small business can afford that sort of costs, so Hub City’s competitors aren’t likely to outlast it by more than a few weeks.