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Ministry of Health vaporises $250,000 after incorrectly threatening retailers – NZTU

The Taxpayers’ Union can reveal that the Ministry of Health spent $249,267.50 on legal fees for a court battle against a vaping retailer who they wrongly threatened for selling non-compliant products.

The issue arose from the Ministry of Health incorrectly interpreting their own regulations in relation to maximum nicotine salt levels, eventually leading to an expensive court case where the Ministry conceded they were in the wrong.

Taxpayers’ Union Campaigns Manager, Connor Molloy, said:

“The Ministry appears to have been playing silly buggers here after refusing the retailer’s repeated requests to meet with them to clear the issue up – something that would have saved the taxpayer hundreds of thousands of dollars.

“The Ministry’s justification for refusing to meet with the retailer is laughable. Despite having met with the company in the past, the Ministry tried to use the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control as reason for it not being appropriate to meet. The issue with that is that it does not apply to vaping suppliers.

“It is especially damaging for business confidence when retailers are threatened despite following the letter of the law. Fortunately, this company was willing to challenge the threats but a similar situation could easily result in a business being too scared to do business in New Zealand.

“If we want people to start businesses in New Zealand, we can’t force them to put up with the incompetence of regulators who put people in a position where they, despite their best efforts, can’t be certain that they are obeying the law. The Minister of Regulation must figure out what went wrong here and ensure it doesn’t happen again.”


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