NZ Hits Flavour Availability

Posted 24th February 2020 by Dave Cross
Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa has dithered making changes that the vape industry was crying out for and was frequently accused of not understanding the role harm reduction products could play. Now she has announced a restrictive approach to controlling access to eliquids and is being condemned by trade body VTANZ.

Salesa’s Bill will allow vaping in public only where smoking is permitted, and liquids on sale at petrol stations and general stores will only come in tobacco, mint and menthol flavours. Smokers and vapers will have to visit specialist shops if they want strawberry or toffee flavoured juices. Other measures are also going to be included.

Jenny Salesa announced the changes by saying: “This is the most significant change to New Zealand's smokefree laws since they were introduced 30 years ago. The Bill aims to strike the right balance between making sure vaping is available for smokers who want to use it as a quit tool for cigarettes while ensuring vaping products are not marketed or sold to children and young people.”

“This is a considered approach that responds to many of the concerns regarding vaping. Our government has heard from a large number of smokers who say vaping is helpful for them to be able to quit cancer-causing cigarettes. However, we have also heard from parents, teachers and principals who want to make sure vaping companies are stopped from marketing to kids.”

VTANZ spokesperson, Jonathan Devery, says the independent vape industry in New Zealand supports the arrival of safety standards, and strict R18 enforcement to protect young people.

“Consumers deserve the highest product safeguards, but they also deserve a viable alternative to smoking. Restricting the most popular adult flavours to specialist stores and prohibiting all advertising will not help one smoker quit tobacco. It only adds barriers and makes it harder for Kiwis to give up cigarettes,” says Mr Devery.

“A total advertising ban is short-sighted. We need to be able to communicate the benefits of our products to adult smokers, even in a restricted way, in order to convert them to something 95% less harmful.”

He says while limiting flavours to tobacco, menthol and mint in corner dairies has some merit, extending such restrictions to all supermarkets and service stations is too tough when those retail environments are heavily controlled.

“Ex-adult smokers love flavours, that is how they’ve managed to quit tobacco. In fact, we know 90% of adult smokers require vape flavours to successfully make the switch. Flavoured vapes have been a huge contributor to New Zealand’s record-low smoking rates, and there remains no evidence that flavours lead to youth vaping,” he says.

VTANZ says the industry needed to be able to communicate the benefits of vape products to adult smokers, even in a restricted way akin to alcohol, in order to convert them to something that is "95 percent less harmful".

“The industry has long been calling for the Government to regulate vaping, but any provisions must help, not hinder, Smokefree 2025. Restricting access to the most successful flavours for adults and burying any opportunity to promote this incredibly effective smoking cessation tool will be counterproductive.”

He says it’s positive that online vape product purchases will remain. They are critical for adult smokers, and effective age verification processes are easily achievable. Further, the industry is happy to meet with the Minister to pro-offer practical improvements to prevent online underage access.

“Enshrining product standards and cementing vaping’s R18 status we can totally agree on. However, messing with vaping’s appeal and access for adult smokers is something we will fight every step of the way. Most of us in VTANZ are ex-smokers and we want more Kiwis to join the club, not fewer,” says Mr Devery.


 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker