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Interest In Vaping Legalised Cannabis Growing

A survey of 340 vapers at the Auckland Oceania Vape Expo in December found a majority were interested in vaping cannabinoid liquids if legalized. About a third (34%) said they would, and 37 per cent said they certainly would, try cannabinoid vaping liquids if they were legalized.

The survey results are being presented at the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco conference in New Orleans this week.

“One of the biggest surprises from this survey of mostly Kiwi vapers was that a substantial black market in cannabinoid vaping products already exists in New Zealand,” said researcher Marewa Glover, one of the authors of the study, and Director of the New Zealand based Centre of Research Excellence: Indigenous Sovereignty and Smoking.

“Of the vapers who currently smoke cannabis, 50 per cent had vaped cannabinoid liquids, mostly in New Zealand”.

The study also threw up warnings for the Government who are currently debating the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Bill.

It is proposed that specialist vape stores will be able to continue selling a range of approved flavored e-liquids, but convenience stores will only be able to sell tobacco, menthol or mint flavored e-liquids.

“At least among vapers that would attend an expo about vaping, tobacco, menthol or mint flavors were of little interest to them. Only 6 per cent vaped these 3 flavors,” said Dr Glover.

“If the Government did ban e-liquid flavors most survey respondents said they would seek or make unregulated nicotine liquids. The strongest result from our survey was that 90 per cent of vapers would seek to get around the ban by buying their e-liquids from overseas or on the black market; or they would mix their own e-liquids or return to smoking.”

In order to reduce smoking further in New Zealand, the authors believe the Government needs to preserve the aspects of vaping that help people switch completely and permanently from smoking to vaping.

“There needs to be nicotine, a wide range of flavors, a price advantage compared with cigarettes and the understanding that vaping is not the same as smoking. Instead the proposed legislation sends a clear message that vaping is considered as bad as smoking, that current smokers will be allowed to vape temporarily but eventually the import and sale of all tobacco and vaping products will be prohibited.”

If the use of cannabis products is legalized, it is not clear if the amended Smoke-Free Environments Act will be used to restrict where people can smoke or vape cannabis products.

“The proposed Amendment is very vague on many aspects. For instance, it uses the term ‘vaping substance’ that might later be used to cover cannabinoid liquids for vaping. There is a distinct lack of transparency in that consumers and the vape industry are not being clearly informed. The Amendment Bill has far-reaching implications for anyone who smokes tobacco, vapes anything, or uses oral tobacco and nicotine products like snus which will be clearly prohibited by the Amendment.

It is important that the proposed law change is not rushed through because it is not just about vaping. It is a radical rewrite and extension of the original Smoke-Free Environments Act. It changes the intent of the original Act, which was to reduce harm. It introduces an American-like Premarket Tobacco Product Application process and a sinking lid mechanism that would allow the Director General of Health to over time force smaller manufacturers out of the market.

If the Amendment goes through as proposed, it protects the largest companies which are tobacco companies.” Dr Glover said.

“The Government risks creating significant unintended consequences if they pass a law that will essentially be ignored,” Dr Glover said.

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