MOH Draft Vaping Regulations Could Stub Out Smokefree 2025 Success
The Ministry of Health is today drawing backlash from the local New Zealand vaping industry following its release of proposed regulations for the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act.
Vaping Trade Association New Zealand (VTANZ) President, Lawrence Coe, says the Industry has long called for positive legislation and regulation that would control the wild-west marketing environment, and would protect consumers from unsafe or dodgy products.
“As we said last year, at the time of the Vaping Bill rushing through Parliament, via Zoom, during lockdown – the devil is in the detail, and it doesn’t look good.
“Unfortunately, rather than carefully crafted controls on advertising and promotion – the Government took the easy route of lumping vaping in with smoking and banning the lot.
“Now we are faced with the next wave of change, Regulations, and the much-feared costs to our businesses as a result”.
Mr Coe said there are some positives proposed which the Industry would welcome, but overall, the draft proposals needed a lot of work.
In particular, VTANZ welcomes the proposed regulations to become a Specialist Vape Retailer, and to manufacture domestically.
“The product standards will also go a long way to providing consumers high levels of trust and confidence in the products that will be available in New Zealand,” he said.
The current proposal of a nine-month period for the industry to implement the product packaging changes is also positive, and VTANZ hopes that this time period will be applied to all of the regulated changes to allow for industry consistency, preparation and planning.
Mr Coe said there are several negative and highly costly proposals that needed urgent highlighting and scrutiny so that the wider industry, consumers, and pro-harm reduction groups could be made aware:
1) The proposed fees of $140 per product notification risks putting dozens of our members out of business when facing in excess of $140,000 costs just to keep trading. Compliance costs are meant to be cost-neutral, but the government has vastly underestimated the number of skus on the market. Two retailers in NZ will cover the entire estimated cost of the programme
2) The proposed limit of 500mg per container, is also highly problematic. This means that any liquid sold under the proposed 50mg/ml cap, could only come in tiny 10ml bottles – this is highly impractical for manufactures of multiple flavours and strengths – and also will lead to the generation of unnecessary additional waste to landfill. The most important factor is that bottles are tamper and child proof, not their size.
3) VTANZ strongly opposes the Ministry of Health’s proposed regulation on the ban to sweeteners in vaping e-liquids. Almost all international vapour imports and raw ingredients as well as many domestic products contain sweeteners in their e-liquid. There is no evidence that sweeteners contribute to additional harm or adverse effects, and this should be a watch out for the New Zealand industry as the Ministry of Health tries to implement draconian regulations without evidenced based backing.
A ban on sweeteners in e-liquid is a de facto ban on the majority of the e-liquids on the market akin to banning salt in food products which will negatively impact the overall palatability of vaping products and therefore limit their uptake.
Overall, this rigid clamping down on the vape industry will just once again play into Big Tobacco’s hands.
Nicotine is not the enemy here, smoking is. By continuing down this path of unjustified restrictions, ineffective nicotine and flavour limits, unreasonable fees, and impossible barriers to entry for the small local players – who comes out on top?
VTANZ will be submitting on each of the issues, and strongly encourage all industry participants, and supporters of tobacco harm reduction to do the same.