VTANZ says it supports the letter from over 60 health and community organisations, academics, and school representatives calling for legislation to be urgently introduced to regulate vaping.
“We’ve been calling for regulation for over five years. It was promised over a year ago, and we’re still waiting. These delays and ongoing uncertainty are having a massive impact on New Zealand-owned businesses and the many Kiwis who work in them,” says Jonathan Devery, spokesperson for VTANZ.
He says New Zealand vape independents are also concerned that Big Tobacco is irresponsibly targeting youth. At the same time he agrees that vaping as an incredibly effective smoking cessation tool for adults is being held back.
The open letter was addressed to Health Minister Jenny Salesa, who has promised to introduce the Smoke-free Environments (Vaping) Amendment Bill into Parliament soon.
Among the measures, Ms Salesa has indicated the Government will ban the most successful flavours for adults. However, Mr Devery says 90% of adults transitioning from cigarettes to vaping rely on flavours to successfully quit tobacco.
He says there is also no evidence here or overseas that flavours lead to youth vaping. The UK, for example, does not have a youth vaping epidemic despite there being unlimited flavours for adults. VTANZ would then fight flavour restrictions while strongly supporting product safety standards.
Mr Devery says in recent years vaping has played a major role in New Zealand’s falling smoking rates and cigarette sales, but ongoing delays and uncertainly only delay the country’s smoke-free aspirations.
“We are totally against youth marketing and are all for R18 sales. However, if the Government wants to achieve that as well as deliver falling smoking rates, it actually has to introduce some sound and sensible vaping regulation sooner rather than later.”
“Doing nothing is not helping one Kiwi smoker to quit tobacco, nor is it helping the growing Kiwi vape industry plan for its future – an industry which now involves hundreds and hundreds of employees and New Zealand families,” says Jonathan Devery.
The open letter, signed by 21 Health and Community Organisations, 10 academics, and a huge list of schools and school organisations, says:
“We are concerned at delays to the introduction to the House of the Smokefree Environments Amendment (Vaping) Bill. This delay is not in the best interests of children or smokers who want to stop.
“The intention to legislate regulations for vaping, smokeless tobacco products and electronic cigarettes was announced by the government in November 2018. At that time, you said “we need to make it [vaping] as safe as possible and protect young people from taking it up”. Currently neither of your objectives are being met.
“Delays in tabling a Bill for debate continues to leave the vaping market open for commercial exploitation, rather than setting clear parameters for how products are marketed, sold and used. This gap in legislation is being filled and exploited by fierce competition. Market forces are now defining the vaping environment in New Zealand, as opposed to this environment being defined by the need to protect health.
“Of particular concern are the increased reports of non-smoking young people being highly susceptible to the unregulated marketing and sales of products. In the absence of government leadership, we have no accountability for manufacturers to protect children, and ensure their devices are used by adult smokers only.
“There are a range of views on what the regulatory environment should contain. However, we all share the view that the current lack of controls is highly undesirable.
“Introducing this Bill is an urgent priority. It is a topic of intense public interest, as evidenced by the media. The parliamentary and select committee processes will scrutinise the proposals and evidence to produce the best outcome.
“Further delays may be indefinite, especially as 2020 is an election year. In the meantime, the lack of legislation continues to fail both young people, and smokers.
“We strongly urge you and your Cabinet colleagues to urgently table the Bill for first reading.”
- The Vaping Trade Association of New Zealand – [link]