“Having a ‘bricks and mortar’ presence will remain critical as people love to interact with retail staff, see product, and seek advice,” says Ben Pryor, Co-owner of Vapo and Alt New Zealand - the largest Kiwi-owned vape company. His comments follow stores reopening nationwide now the country is in Alert Level 2 - which allows all retailers to operate with ongoing respect to social distancing and public health.
“Our online stores saw a real lift in the past couple of months, and no doubt many customers will stay virtual shoppers, but we’re very confident physical shoppers aren’t going anywhere. The public will always like getting out to shop, with traditional retail’s tactile factor not set to lose any of its appeal.”
Speaking about World Smokefree Day, which took place last Sunday, Jonathan Devery, spokesperson of the Vaping Trade Association of New Zealand (VTANZ), said: “Here’s hoping the Government’s bill to regulate vaping brings New Zealand’s ambition of Smokefree 2025 closer and helps us to better celebrate World Smokefree Day in the future.”
His comments preceded Parliament’s Health Select Committee reporting back on the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Bill on Tuesday.
“Vaping has been hugely important in reducing New Zealand’s smoking rates. On World Smokefree Day, we’re also hoping the Government will commit to relaunching its ‘Vape to Quit’ campaign to encourage more Kiwis to make the switch from deadly tobacco to vaping which is 95% less harmful and considerably cheaper.”
Devery’s call came shortly after research from the University of Otago and Māori public health collective Hāpai Te Hauora was released, which found Māori and Pasifika who have not been able to quit smoking may need more support to move from smoking to vaping.
Mr Devery said it was time for the Kiwi administration to adopt some “sensible changes” to the vaping bill in order to help more Kiwis quit tobacco.
When introduced to the house, the Government’s bill proposed limiting vape flavours to just menthol, mint and tobacco for all non-specialist vape retailers.
“Only the interests of Big Tobacco companies will be served if the availability and desirability of vaping products for Kiwi adults is limited. We’re hoping on World Smokefree Day that we may soon see some practical and pragmatic changes to the Government’s vaping bill. Our youth must be heavily protected, but adult smokers must also be given every opportunity to kick tobacco,” says Jonathan Devery.
“Wouldn’t it be great if one result from all this upheaval was if New Zealand’s 12.5% overall smoking rate fell to single figures? That would be a government statistic worth celebrating and one they should now invest in,” added Ben Pryor.
The Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy (AVCA) certainly believes so. Nancy Loucas said: “New Zealand’s bill to regulate vaping has the potential to address issues for at-risk Kiwi communities and their children in a pragmatic and risk proportionate way. It also could be a leading example of progressive public health policy in the wider Asia-Pacific basin. We’re hopeful that the Government will take on board the thousands of voices who’ve constructively addressed the regulations during the consultation period and for MPs decisions to be based on scientific and statistical facts.”