While the new vaping laws are a step in the right direction, Government’s efforts continue to fall short in addressing the escalating vaping crisis among our youth.
That’s the message from Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ Chief Executive Ms Letitia Harding ahead of tomorrow’s law change, which prevents new Specialist Vape Retailers (SVRs) from setting up within 300m of schools and marae.
Ms Harding says the new rules will do nothing to stop current SVRs already in close proximity to schools nor does it stop general retailers from selling vapes.
“The problem is it doesn’t stop a dairy or a petrol station from setting up in that zone – the law is flawed.
“We also need a cap now on the number of SVRs allowed in the country, as there are currently 1413 SVRs listed on the Health Advisory Regulatory Platform.”
In last night’s leaders’ debate, Labour’s Chris Hipkins and National’s Christopher Luxon both stated they are against making vaping prescription only, but failed to delve deeper into the subject.
Prior to last night’s debate, Labour promised, that if re-elected, they would cap the number of stores permitted to sell vapes to 600 and introduce harsher financial penalties for anyone selling vapes to under 18-year-olds.
National has said that Labour’s policy didn’t go far enough, but an announcement about how they will tackle the youth vaping epidemic is yet to come.
“Whoever ends up forming our next Government needs to take vaping seriously – our young people deserve better,” Ms Harding says.
“You only have to hear of one child as young as 9 now experimenting with vaping to know we’ve got a serious problem in this country.
“It’s highly unlikely children this young would ever consider smoking a cigarette, but vaping’s allure and prevalence makes it so enticing.”
The Ministry of Health views vapes as recreational products first and secondary for smoking cessation, and that these products are available to support smokers to quit.
“I think that the contradictory messaging by the Ministry of Health over the years has led to the normalisation of vaping in Aotearoa, and kids thinking these products are not harmful,” Ms Harding says.
“In a 2021 Journal of Cardiology, it was suggested that for every smoker who achieves cessation using vapes, 80 adolescents will become addicted to nicotine, and I think this is the reality we find ourselves in.”
The Foundation would like to see a ban on all disposable vapes (including those with removable batteries), no more SVRs set up, support for vaping harm education programmes and quit vaping services for rangatahi, a nicotine content limit of 20 mg/mL for all vape products, a ban on all front-of-store advertising and displays of vaping products and to re-look at the nicotine-containing vapes prescription model.