“We haven’t seen this level of New Zealand data since 2016. To now see AC Neilsen numbers confirming that cigarette sales have continued to drop, and quite sharply year-on-year, is very satisfying for the local vaping industry,” says Jonathan Devery, spokesperson for VTANZ.
He says, without doubt, smokers switching to considerably less harmful vaping has significantly contributed to New Zealand’s declining cigarette sales. He notes that over the same period smoking rates in Australia have hardly moved, largely due to their vaping restrictions.
“If New Zealand wants its smoking rates to keep falling then the Government has to keep vaping an accessible and attractive smoking cessation tool for Kiwis keen to quit tobacco. Prohibiting all marketing, banning the most successful flavours for adults, and dramatically capping nicotine levels would sadly only see New Zealand’s falling smoking rates slow, if not reverse.”
He says VTANZ encourages the Government and its officials to closely review this latest data before Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa introduces the Smoke-free Environments (Vaping) Amendment Bill into Parliament soon.
“We need to support all the factors contributing to our falling smoking rates. Key is enabling and encouraging smokers to successfully switch to vaping. These latest statistics go a long way to proving that vaping is New Zealand’s best weapon on the war against tobacco,” says Mr Devery.
Devery, along with Ben Pryor, set up Australasian vaping brand Vapo – and have embarked on an ambitious expansion plan in their quest to reduce tobacco related harm.
Vapo now has 11 stores across New Zealand, with Sylvia Park and NorthWest the latest additions for Auckland, and Nelson now home to the South Island’s second Vapo store.
Vapo marks the first vape shop for Sylvia Park. Located inside the south-east Auckland mega-mall, the Vapo owners have designed an ingenious way for customers to ‘try’ at least 80 different vape flavours, without breaching Sylvia Park’s policy of no vaping inside.
Vapo founders and owners, Jonathan Devery and Ben Pryor, believe their vape testing station concept is a world first. Akin to testing perfume, adult smokers and vapers can spray their chosen vape flavour from a tester bottle onto a card to smell.
This follows a testing station being successfully trialled in the Vapo store at Westfield Manukau Shopping Centre over recent months.
“We proactively devised the testing station to respect Sylvia Park’s no vaping policy, and since opening in recent days, it is working really well. With the industry set to be regulated, it’s certainly something we could easily replicate for our other stores,” says Mr Devery.
He says all Vapo stores enforce a strict R18 policy, which includes asking for identification from customers who look under 25 years of age. Vapo also only sells vape products to smokers wanting to quit tobacco and existing vapers.
“Good on Sylvia Park’s owner Kiwi Property Group for meeting customer demand and extending their mall portfolio to include vaping products for those keen to quit smoking and keep off tobacco. We also appreciate that in turn Sylvia Park respect the tough policies we apply as a R18 retailer and the responsibility and care Vapo takes,” Mr Devery says.
Ben Pryor says the growth and dominance of the Vapo brand simply reflects the increasing demand by people to access vaping products. He says considerable effort is put into the design of each Vapo store, making them aesthetically attractive and comfortable spaces for even the most discerning smokers and vapers.
“As the latest Census and retail data shows, more and more Kiwis are putting their cigarettes down and looking for a much less harmful alternative. Many also prefer an independent, Kiwi-owned brand which they can trust. That’s why Vapo and our other brand Alt are doing so well,” says Mr Pryor.
The new Vapo store at Auckland’s NorthWest Shopping Centre precinct is outside on Maki Street. The Vapo store in Nelson is in the city’s heart, near the corner of Hardy and Trafalgar streets. It marks the second South Island store, following Vapo opening in High Street, central Christchurch in April.
The Kiwi vape entrepreneurs’ business assent has been rapid since opening their first store in Dominion Road in 2017. Today they are the largest Kiwi-owned vape company.
Their products are now available in over 1,500 outlets throughout New Zealand, including Countdown, Pak'nSave, and New World supermarkets, Mobil, Z, and BP service stations, independent convenience stores, as well their now 11 Vapo-branded retail outlets.
Securing a foothold in both Kiwi Income Property and Westfield malls, means Vapo is now part of the leasing portfolios of the two biggest retail property groups in New Zealand.
Thanks to Vapo and Alt New Zealand’s busy online business, they’re now also leading vape brands in Australia. Just recently they launched Vapo Japan and Vapo UK, and are currently looking at further overseas expansion.