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'Proposed vaping regulation sends Smokefree 2025 goal up in smoke'

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The New Zealand vape industry is losing confidence in both the Government and the Opposition following recent comments made by both Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa and National Leader Simon Bridges.

"Their comments suggest that neither Labour or National can see past the media scaremongering around tainted THC liquids found in the United States and as a result are playing politics with Kiwi lives," says QJ Satchell, President of The New Zealand Vaping Alliance.

With Minister Salesa seemingly unable to now give a clear statement on vaping, the risk facing 200,000 Kiwi vapers is that draconian, nanny-state over-regulation of this disruptive new technology that is significantly less harmful than smoking, will decimate a thriving market in harm-reduction products," said Mr Satchell.

"It’s pretty upsetting to realise that 12 months of excellent work by the Ministry of Health’s Technical Expert Advisory Group[1] on vaping is being chucked in the bin by a Minister who now seems intent of spreading confusion among smokers looking to quit by using vaping products.

NZ’s vape industry support strong measures to deter the sale and supply to minors and in the absence of regulations, has self-imposed high-quality product standards and R18 sales to protect consumers and youth.

However thanks to media hysteria out of the US, we are now seeing a decline in vaping product sales which only means one thing - people are continuing to stick with smoking," said Mr Satchell.

In New Zealand the vast majority of adults who’ve made the switch from deadly cigarettes to vaping rely on fruit or dessert flavours to keep them from relapsing to back to smoking.

Mr Satchell said ‘The Government’s flavour ban, now backed by National, will force up to 200,000 adult vapers either back to smoking, or to a dodgy black market.[2]

The NZ vape industry has been calling for regulations for years, and despite increasing pressure on Minister Salesa to act, the industry waits. Local experts such as ASH[3] and the Minister’s own officials have also been advocating for sensible, light-touch, risk-proportionate regulations based on science and evidence, and yet the Minister is opting for a knee-jerk reaction to issues like youth ‘juuling’ and health problems from bootleg THC liquids entirely contained to the United States.

The UK Government has been actively promoting nicotine-vaping[4] through responsible industry advertising, Government backed ‘Vapril’ and ‘Stoptober’ campaigns, and vaping products in specialist vape shops and supermarket ‘health care’ aisles for more than 10 years and has 3.6 million adult vapers with no such ‘outbreak’[5]. They even have vape shops in hospitals[6].

"There should absolutely be some minimum product quality and safety standards, which we can almost copy and paste from the UK. But in New Zealand, Kiwi vapers continually see Minister Salesa kick her vaping Bill down the road," said Mr Satchell.

Rather than sweeping, blanket prohibitions on the vaping industry’s ability to promote a range of vaping products, nicotine levels and flavours that work for adult customers who smoke, New Zealand could be world leaders in vaping regulation which clearly treats it differently from deadly cigarettes.

"Our warning is that If the Government and National move to lock vaping away behind closed doors just like cigarettes and deny Kiwis a range of flavours which truly work for them, the Smokefree 2025 ambition doesn’t stand a chance," Mr Satchell said.

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