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Youth Vaping and the Laws of Aotearoa

22 January 2020

Auckland, New Zealand

The government needs to address the lack of age restrictions on vape products to limit youth access, via immediate regulation to place the products under the same age restricted R18 category as other “adult only” consumer products, such as alcohol and combustible tobacco.

Nancy Loucas, co-director of AVCA has noted “the lack of any age restriction in Aotearoa/New Zealand around the products and the continued delay in introducing proposed regulation is feeding into the perception of an epidemic that simply does not exist here. Therefore, the simple solution is to enact emergency legislation to ban the sale of the products to anyone under 18 years old. New Zealand does not, at this point in time, have any regulation that outlaws the sale of reduced risk products to youth under the age of 18.”

“By doing this one thing, the government to focus on formulating risk proportionate regulations to serve the needs of the adult smokers and vapers in New Zealand that will not involve punitive measures such as the flavour ban Hon. Salesa stated in last public announcement regarding the “youth vaping” issue.

The obvious problem with this punitive stance on THR is her blatant lack of consultation with not only the consumers, but the acknowledgement of the evidence that disproves the justification for such a ban. Having such an adamant sense of conviction that her perspective is the only perspective around harm reduction methods does a great disservice to public health, tobacco control and the people of Aotearoa.

We also know that flavours are a very big part of success in switching off of combustibles. Punitive measures that limit the choices of adult consumers will severely limit the effectiveness of these products in helping smokers be successful in switching. If we, as a country, are going to reach the SmokeFree Aotearoa 2025 goal, then the government needs to approach the proposed regulatory scheme from a pragmatic, fact/evidence based method, and not be distracted or influenced by media hysteria, moral outrage or fear based perceptions that are imported from overseas and have no relevance in the New Zealand context.”

The continued delay in introducing a regulatory framework is causing harm, not only to the reputation we have of being a beacon of sanity in Public Health policy, but also to the people who would benefit most from access to a range of products that will assist them in their journey towards being smokefree and helping get Aotearoa/New Zealand reach the SmokeFree 2025 goal.

/end

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