Under the new proposals, nicotine-containing vaping products would be required to carry a warning label pointing out their addiction potential in both English and te reo Maori, similar to the ones found on cigarettes.
Nabhik Gupta, a spokesperson for local retailer Shosha, said that regardless of the proposal outcome, his company has already begun the planning process of redesigning packaging to include warnings, and their packets will include the following: “He nikotini kei roto i tenei mea, he matu tino whakawara” (this product contains nicotine which is a highly addictive substance).
“Unlike tobacco products where the packaging is relatively standardised, the box size of e-cigarettes varies substantially between manufacturers. While the redesign and printing of thousands of individual product lines is a significant undertaking and a process which will take months to fully implement, we believe it is an important proactive step for us to take to improve industry standards and help support smokers wanting to transition away from cigarettes,” he said.
Similarly, Store manager of a Shosha branch on New Plymouth’s Devon St West, Prince Mehra, said he believes this is a good initiative anyway, and customers have responded positively. “The people who understand Māori are excited to see it in their language,” he said. “I’ve had a lot of positive feedback.”
The proposed flavour restrictions
Meanwhile, the industry is concerned about the part of the draft proposal suggesting a ban on sweeteners in e-liquids. “Our collective goal is to convert smokers to harm reduced alternatives. In order to achieve this, vaping products must be given an equal or more advantaged playing field.”
“The Ministry of Health states that up to 10% of cigarettes contain sweetening agents designed to increase their palatability. How can vaping products compete in the smoking market when such key flavouring components are restricted?” said Jonathan Devery, the co-owner of another major local vape brand, VAPO.
“We don’t support the flavour limits for general retailers, such as supermarkets and service stations, that are set to take effect in August. Flavours are key in getting adults to successfully quit smoking, and as has been well established, there is no youth vaping epidemic in New Zealand. Yes to tough sanctions for anyone caught selling vaping products to under 18 year olds, but no to making vaping less appealing or accessible to adult smokers desperate to get off cigarettes,” added Devery.