Government Digging In On Vaping Bill Only Helps Smoking
“The Government’s bill to regulate vaping won’t bring New Zealand any closer to its smokefree ambition, unless MPs now get in behind the many submitters and intervene to drive down the country’s smoking rates,” says Jonathan Devery, spokesperson of the Vaping Trade Association of New Zealand (VTANZ).
Mr Devery’s comments follow the Health Select Committee tabling its report in Parliament on the Government’s Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Bill.
“The hundreds who submitted, calling for changes to help more Kiwis quit smoking, are really disappointed. What’s more, 200,000 adult vapers in New Zealand are set to be unnecessarily inconvenienced - so much so that without easy access to a specialist vape store, to buy their preferred flavours, many will sadly return to smoking.”
Despite VTANZ and other vaping advocates highlighting that fruit, dessert, and sweet flavour variations are the most popular for adults and key to smokers switching, the Health Select Committee has stuck by the Government’s proposal to limit vape flavours to just three - menthol, mint and tobacco - for all general retailers.
Online-only vape retailers are also not deemed specialists, meaning they too will soon only be permitted to sell three flavours, further penalising the likes of those wanting to quit or stay off smoking in rural areas.
Mr Devery says as well highlighting the importance of vape flavours, many submitters pushed for vaping advertising to be heavily restricted and regulated, like alcohol, rather than totally prohibited.
“Alarmingly, New Zealand taxpayers will soon solely be expected to fund vaping messages. Given how stretched the public purse is, it’s madness the industry isn’t allowed to use our own private profits to fund advertisements, promoting vaping as a smoking cessation tool, in a heavily regulated way. It works well in the UK, but won’t be allowed here.
“We wholeheartedly support the product safety measures, protecting our youth, and the tough R18 restrictions. However, making the most popular adult flavours available through some retailers but not others, and having taxpayers fund the merits of vaping, not the private sector, makes little sense,” he says
VTANZ believes the Government’s decision to rush the submission and select committee process through during the Alert Level 3 and 4 lockdowns will lead to suboptimal outcomes in the long run, including some vapers feeling forced to source non-regulated flavours leading to possible health risks.
“New Zealand’s bill to regulate vaping has still to get through a couple of readings in Parliament. We’re now relying on other MPs to step up if they support practical ways to achieve Smokefree 2025 and don’t want Big Tobacco to win,” says Jonathan Devery.