Ben Pryor, who co-owns leading brands VAPO Australia, VAPO New Zealand and Alt New Zealand, along with business partner Jonathan Devery, says Australia’s harsh new regulations will decimate vaping across the Tasman.
Nicotine vaping products remain illegal in Australia unless smokers trying to quit tobacco have a prescription from their doctor but, in reality, no Australian medical practitioners will actually be able to prescribe under the proposed law change.
“We’re really feeling for our Australian cousins. Alarmingly, they have a Government which now expects them to kick tobacco by using ineffective patches and gum, including a product that has been dangerously associated with suicide!
“Led by Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt, the Australia Government is ignoring world-leading scientific advice and making it as hard as possible for Australian smokers to quit tobacco. It defies all logic and anti-smoking advocates here and there are furious.”
By now prohibiting the importation of nicotine for use in e-cigarettes, the Australian Government claims the move will further strengthen Australia's precautionary approach to vaping. However, Mr Pryor says the move will cost lives.
“There’s a reason why over 20,000 Aussies still die from smoking-related illnesses every year, and their smoking rate remains higher than New Zealand’s. That’s simply because the Government refuses to make vaping, which is 95% less harmful, readily accessible to smokers. In fact, they’re now making vaping near impossible!”
The Australian Border Force is obliged by law, from 1 July, to seize e-cigarettes containing nicotine, and with importing offences soon punishable by absurd, logic-defying fines of up to $220,000.
Pryor says given the impact of Covid-19 on retail trade, this decision by Australia also comes as a double-whammy to both New Zealand and Australian vape manufacturers and online distributors.
Completely pulling the rug on imported nicotine vaping products, he says, defies the spirit of ANZAC and nearly 40 years of Closer Economic Relations (CER). It also destroys the momentum of independent Australian and New Zealand businesses which have the potential to take away Big Tobacco’s monopoly in both countries.
“We understand the rationale to restrict poor quality products, but this blanket ban also hits world-leading products. Our hardware is compliant with GMP medical device standards and our e-liquids are emissions-tested in the United Kingdom.
“We’re now calling on our Minister of Trade, David Parker, to formally raise this issue with his Australian counterpart. Afterall, our Government is about to legalise and legitimise vaping in New Zealand with a bill currently before Parliament. Maybe our Government can enlighten the Australian Government about this incredibly effective smoking cessation tool and how to get national smoking rates down.
“Sadly, Aussies are being let down badly by this public policy shocker which will only help Big Tobacco,” says Ben Pryor.
Savvas Dimitriou, Australian Retail Vaping Industry Association, said: "This is quite a devastating blow to everybody and there are a lot of people very frightened about what's going to happen and how this is going to affect them going forward. We've just been completely steamrolled by a Health Department that is very clearly moving along ideological lines.
"It's very hard to argue against that because if the entirety of the ministry thinks and tells people vaping is deadly and much more dangerous than smoking, it's reasonable for people to assume that's the truth."