Vape Stores Must Be Allowed Under Level 3
Ahead of the Prime Minister giving more details on alert level activities tomorrow, the Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy (AVCA) is asking for specialist R18 vape stores to be allowed to open on public health grounds.
“There’s a real risk of New Zealand’s smoking rates creeping back up if the accessibility of vaping remains reduced while tobacco products continue to be available as per usual,” says Director of AVCA, Nancy Loucas.
Given the extra stress and isolation during the Covid-19 pandemic and lockdown, she says vapers are at risk of returning to smoking especially if they can’t readily access their preferred retailers, flavours and products.
“Vape stores play a really important role in keep vapers off tobacco and a chance for smokers to talk through their options. Not every vape store will want to open, but those that do and can demonstrate safe operating procedures for staff and customers should be allowed to under Alert Level 3,” she says.
Ms Loucas says there are plenty of examples overseas where governments have deemed vape stores essential businesses - fearing that smoking rates would increase, adding more pressure on individuals’ health and national healthcare systems.
The World Health Organisation, among others, has advised that smoking has a hugely detrimental impact when coupled with Covid-19.
“As a country we’ve worked so hard to drive down New Zealand’s overall smoking rate to 12.5%, with vaping a huge part of that. As the Prime Minister would say let’s not lose our halftime advantage. Let’s do all we can to limit vapers returning to something that’s 95% more harmful and kills 5,000 Kiwis a year,” she says.
Nancy Loucas says a move by the Government to support ex-smokers and specialist vape stores says would be a positive nod to the country’s SmokeFree 2025 ambition.
AVCA was formed in 2016 by vapers across New Zealand wanting their voices heard in local and central government. All members are former smokers who promote vaping to help smokers quit - a much less harmful alternative to combustible tobacco products. AVCA does not have any affiliation or vested interest in industry - tobacco, pharmaceutical and/or the local vaping manufacturing or retail sectors.