Coronavirus-impacted Businesses Face Consultation Squeeze
The Government’s decision to rush the bill to regulate vaping is unfair on local businesses now dealing with the impacts of the global coronavirus pandemic, says the Vaping Trade Association of New Zealand (VTANZ).
The Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Bill had its first reading in Parliament this week, with Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa pushing for and getting a fast-tracked process.
The bill is now expected to take just three months to progress through Parliament, instead of the usual six months. Public submissions are being called by the Health Select Committee, which close on 1 April – in just over two weeks.
VTANZ spokesperson, Jonathan Devery, says the independent vape industry has been calling for regulation for five years. After 18 months of the Government promising it, it’s unsatisfactory that such a challenging consultation deadline has been adopted simply to ensure the bill is passed before the election.
“Manufacturers and distributers are now busy developing policies and procedures to mitigate the potential exposure of coronavirus on their workforce, while many retailers are working on ways to keep their doors open given falling foot traffic.
“Now’s not the time to force local vape businesses to make rushed submissions on such a fundamental piece of legislation to regulate our entire industry, particularly when the Minister has long promoted the submission and select committee process as the best place for businesses to raise their concerns, ” he says.
Mr Devery while VTANZ staunchly supports the arrival of safety standards and strict R18 enforcement, restricting the most popular adult flavours to specialist stores and prohibiting all advertising is over the top and could lead to smoking rates rising.
“Vaping has hugely contributed to New Zealand’s record low smoking rates. We need to be able to keep communicating the benefits of our products to adult smokers. What’s more, extending the proposed flavour restrictions to all supermarkets and service stations is too tough when those retail environments are heavily controlled, and aren’t a problem,” he says.
Mr Devery those wanting to make a submission can do so via the parliamentary website: https://www.parliament.nz/en/pb/sc/make-a-submission/document/52SCHE_SCF_BILL_94933/smokefree-environments-and-regulated-products-vaping
“We strongly encourage New Zealand vape businesses and vapers to try and make some time before 1 April and have their say. We can’t let Big Tobacco win this war!”