The Ministry of Health was recently reviewing submissions on its draft vaping regulations. Earlier this year, co-director of the Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy (AVCA), Nancy Loucas, voiced her concern that the draft regulations were to go into effect, therefore adding more cost and scarcity to vaping products, the retail security situation would worsen.
“Vaping consumers support regulation and high product safety standards. However, under the proposed regulations, vape manufacturers and retailers will be hit hard with many compliance costs. That will only make vape products more expensive and increasingly sought-after by criminals,” said Loucas.
The Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Bill passed
The Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Bill was passed earlier this month. It has set in place a tobacco age limit of 18, restricted the sales of flavoured vaping products to specialist vape retailers, and only allows three vape flavours (mint, menthol, and tobacco) for sale in general retail stores.
Loucas said that registered specialist vape stores are now more likely to be targeted by burglars and shoplifters, as they’ll be the only ones permitted to stock and sell a wide range of vape flavours, of which fruit and dessert remain the most popular. “Over time, burglaries may impact vapers access to flavours and equipment as some vape shop owners will possibly bow out of the market fearing safety concerns,” she said.
“Most adults have successfully switched using fruit and dessert flavours and they enjoy them. That’s how so many have successfully quit smoking cigarettes. If the Ministry makes these flavours harder to find, sadly some Kiwis will head underground – obtaining unregulated or illegally-sourced products which would be a terrible public policy outcome,” added Loucas.
New Zealand understands the potential of vape products as harm reduction tools
Meanwhile discussing the bill, Australian public health expert and tobacco harm reduction advocate Dr. Colin Mendelsohn, highlighted that unlike its Australian counterpart, the Kiwi government at least understands the potential of vaping as a safer alternative to smoking.
He points out that it is about time Australia follows suit. “The NZ regulations put Australia to shame. They are based on the evidence rather than politics and ideology. They are a model for good public health policy on vaping and will save lives.”