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Vaping industry prepares for fight

A highly focused Vaping Trade Association of New Zealand (VTANZ) has been launched determined to vigorously fight any efforts to kill-off hundreds of New Zealand businesses and thousands of livelihoods now associated with the local vape industry.

“All of us Kiwis involved in the industry are enormously proud of the work we have done to help tens of thousands of other Kiwis to quit smoking. However, given all the negative media coverage recently out of the US on unrelated issues, our trusted products and professional businesses in New Zealand are now facing decimation by statute,” says Ben Pryor, spokesperson for VTANZ.

The industry fight-back comes as Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa is set to introduce the Smoke-free Environments (Vaping) Amendment Bill in Parliament in the coming weeks.

Mr Pryor says VTANZ is totally supportive of the implementation of a world-class product standards and safety regime to protect New Zealand consumers – something the local industry has been advocating for over recent years.

“The Ministry of Health has indicated the proposed regulations will prohibit harmful ingredients, set quality standards for ingredients, as well as set standards for refill containers and devices. This is long overdue. In recent years the local industry has done well to implement its own voluntary code around standards, but to have it all officially and explicitly sanctioned can’t come soon enough,” says Mr Pryor.

“However, New Zealand’s independent vaping brands and many retailers are increasingly concerned that MPs will now go much much further. We’re really fearful that they’re about to side with the media’s newfound emotion, not the established scientific evidence.

“We’re no longer going to take this lying down. As a positive industry, we’re now drawing a line under what is a big beat up. We’re coming together to fight any regulation that will boost Big Tobacco’s presence and see more Kiwis continue to smoke,” he says.

Fellow VTANZ spokesperson, Jonathan Devery, commends the Government, Ministry of Health, and the Health Promotion Agency’s work promoting vaping as an effective tool for smokers to give up tobacco. However, he says, given the negative overseas coverage, the HPA has now suspended its ‘vape to quit smoking’ public information campaign, including cancelling television commercials.

“What’s more, the noises now coming out of the Beehive are increasingly alarming. Suddenly it’s all about prohibiting all marketing, banning the most successful flavours for adults, and dramatically capping nicotine levels. If the Government reacts to these ‘click-bait’ stories by making vaping less appealing to adult smokers, fewer will simply give up tobacco and the country will never achieve its smoke-free ambition,” says Mr Devery.

Mr Pryor and Mr Devery are business partners in the New Zealand vaping industry. Along with many other passionate ‘anti-smoking’ Kiwi vape entrepreneurs and vendors, they have instigated the urgent repurposing of VTANZ, which was initially formed in 2016 but struggled to gain momentum.

“In the absence of regulation, the original VTANZ established a code of conduct which saw local vape manufacturers and retailers adhere to the highest standards of product quality as well as drive the importance of R18 policies and checks. Now the industry desperately needs to step up again if we’re to survive what is suddenly a highly vexed environment, solely due to unrelated incidents reported overseas,” says Mr Devery.

The re-energised VTANZ now brings together almost all of New Zealand’s largest independent vape brands, manufacturers, and retailers. The organisation’s primary purpose in the coming weeks and months is to constructively advocate for the sustainability of New Zealand’s vaping industry and for all the Kiwi smokers wanting to successfully quit tobacco – now and in the future.

With no ties to tobacco, the industry association plans to work with MPs, Government officials, health and industry experts, as well as the likes of New Zealand Vaping Alliance (NZVA), Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy (AVCA), health pressure group ASH, Quitline New Zealand, and public health leader Hapai Te Hauora.

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