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Policy NZ: Finalized Vape Bill Counterproductive to Achieving Smokefree 2025

In the past months, several Kiwi health entities have sent their comments to the Government with regards to the imminent Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Bill, as in its proposed form it seemed to favour Tobacco Companies. Sadly, this bill has now been finalized without the necessary amendments.

A huge opportunity has been missed to make risk-reduced vaping products more accessible to smokers in order to reach the SmokeFree 2025 goal set by government,said Nancy Loucas, Director of the Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy (AVCA). Her comments followed the Parliaments Health Select Committee finalized report on the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Bill.

It is unfathomable that the select committee was so blinded by the emotive rhetoric about perceptions of youth vaping, that they refused to acknowledge the actual facts and statistics relative to New Zealand and youth smoking and vaping rates,she added.

The finalized bill will allow sales of flavoured products only in speciality shops

The finalized bill will allow general and online-only e-cig retailers to sell only three vape flavours, and all other flavours in specialty shops. The AVCA believes that a successful legislation would allow vape flavours countrywide, not just in the bigger towns and cities with brick and mortar specialist vape shops. This would ensure that any adult wishing to quit smoking would have easy access to the products.

Ms Loucas pointed out that local vapers are shocked by the recommendations in the report. They cant believe the disconnect between their experiences of switching to vaping and the recommendations in the report. For many living in the likes of rural areas, the wide availability of flavours via general and online-only retailers has been key to them getting off smokes. Others are in disbelief over the lack of consideration of statistics proving there is no youth epidemic here in New Zealand.

The AVCA explained that if the Government is truly concerned about childrens safety, they must think in much broader terms such as the social and health harms of adult smoking. In our Maori communities, we have multi-generational financial and social harm from tobacco use exacerbated by tobacco control policies such as quit or dieand exorbitant tobacco taxes.

She says that the literature is clear on the influence that parents and caregivers who smoke have on their kids. For example, a young person who lives with a parent who smokes is about 80% to 90% more likely to become a regular smoker as an adult.

These vaping regulations, as they remain, represent a missed opportunity. They fail to give Kiwi smokers as many options as possible to get off the death sticks. They also fail whanau and tamariki to be free from the harm of combustible tobacco so they can have their koros and kuias around for the long haul,said Loucas.

The vape bill is counterproductive to achieving the Smokefree 2025 goal

Similarly, spokesperson for the Vaping Trade Association of New Zealand (VTANZ) Jonathan Devery, said that this bill will be a stumbling block in achieving NZs Smokefree 2025 goal. The Governments bill to regulate vaping wont bring New Zealand any closer to its smokefree ambition, unless MPs now get in behind the many submitters and intervene to drive down the countrys smoking rates.

The hundreds who submitted, calling for changes to help more Kiwis quit smoking, are really disappointed. Whats 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,he added.

Vapesourcing Opinion:

Flavours are essential in helping adults switch and quit smoking. Sadly, the Health Select Committee has ignored all this and stuck by the Governments proposal to limit vape flavours to just three menthol, mint and tobacco for all general retailers.
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