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MP’s Smokefree Amendments Deserve Support

“MP Nicky Wagner’s amendment to reverse the Government’s effective ban on oral tobacco-free nicotine pouches deserves supporting. Thank goodness at least one MP read and listened to key submissions and evidence on the bill to regulate vaping,” says Nancy Loucas, co-director of Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy (AVCA).

Commonly known as tobacco-free snus, the pouches are placed between the upper lip and gum, providing up to 10,000 New Zealanders with a much safer alternative to smoking.

Parliament is expected to debate the final stages of the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Bill after the House resumes on Tuesday for its final three-week session before the General Election.

The National MP has submitted two Supplementary Order Papers (SOPs) – one allowing for oral tobacco-free nicotine pouches, the other allowing businesses that receive at least 50% - not 70% - of their turnover from vaping products to be designated a specialist vape retailer under strict conditions.

“As the amendment on pouches notes, the Ministry of Health advised the Health Select Committee that oral nicotine products are significantly less harmful than smoking. Given they’re administered orally there are no adverse health problems which has been proven through nicotine gum and sprays. Hence, banning them makes absolutely no sense,” says Ms Loucas.

In recent years AVCA has led the fight for risk-proportionate regulation of smoke-free nicotine products, including vaping, snus, and heated tobacco products, promoting the benefits as considerably safer alternatives to combustible tobacco.

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The MP’s other amendment, which would open the door to more retailers qualifying as special vape retailers, is also supported by AVCA.

“More specialist retailers means better access to vape flavours for Kiwis keen to quit smoking. It’s crazy that general retailers will only be permitted to sell mint, menthol and tobacco flavours whilst allowing combustible tobacco to be sold freely. Allowing for more specialist vape retailers, under strict conditions, would only be a positive for Smokefree 2025,” she says.

Nancy Loucas says it’s disappointing MPs are set to push through the long-awaited vaping regulation under Urgency in the last few days of this Parliamentary term without consideration of the testimonies presented during the consultation phase.

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