“The Health Select Committee now better understands the importance of vape flavours in helping Kiwis quit smoking. Subsequently, we may see some sensible softening of the Government’s proposed flavour restrictions,” says Jonathan Devery.
His comments follow oral submissions, via Zoom, concluding on the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Bill. The bill was introduced by Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa in February, with the Health Select Committee due to report back to Parliament by 2 June.
“MPs heard from a huge number of people and organisations that said: Let’s protect our youth, but let’s also remember that the likes of fruit, dessert, and sweet flavour variations are the most popular for adults and key to smokers successfully quitting tobacco,” says Mr Devery
As it stands, the Government’s bill to regulate vaping proposes limiting vape flavours to just menthol, mint and tobacco for all non-specialist vape retailers.
Jonathan Devery believes that limiting the availability and desirability of vaping products for adults will only serve the interests of Big Tobacco companies, enabling them to maintain their stranglehold on “at-risk Kiwis and communities”.
“We’re hopeful that about three more flavour categories will be allowed for general retail. That would reflect the fact that up to 90% of ex-smokers want and need those flavours to keep off cigarettes. Everywhere there are cigarettes but not popular vape flavours only risks smoking rates rising,” he says.
Overly tough flavour restrictions, he believes, could also see Kiwis accessing potentially dangerous unregulated black-market products – which have led to hospitalisations overseas.
VTANZ says is also optimistic the committee will recommend to Parliament that vaping advertising be heavily restricted and regulated, like alcohol, not totally prohibited as the bill currently proposes.
“Government expenditure is under increasing pressure. Permitting only taxpayer-funded advertising campaigns to promote the advantages of switching from smoking to vaping makes even less sense now. Vape businesses should be able to use their own profits to advertise in a restricted way, sparing Kiwi taxpayers,” says Jonathan Devery.
- VTANZ – [link]