Disservice to smokers to restrict specialist vape shops
‘Whilst we have absolutely no issues with restrictions around primary and secondary schools and Kura, we do have issue with adult community locations, such as universities, and other tertiary facilities,’ says Nancy Loucas, Executive Coordinator of CAPHRA (Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates).
Her comments form part of CAPHRA’s submission on the Government’s consultation document titled ‘Proposals for the Smoked Tobacco Regulatory Regime’. Submissions close on 15 March, with CAPHRA concerned at some of the measures aimed at youth vaping.
The proposals include tightening current restrictions on vaping product safety requirements and packaging, as well as reducing nicotine levels in disposable vapes. The document also considers some restrictions on the location of Specialist Vape Retailers (SVRs).
‘Specialist Vape Retailers provide a service that is not available in general retailers. It is a disservice to adults who smoke in Aotearoa New Zealand to restrict their access to specialist shops and guidance.’
On general retailers, CAPHRA believes access to safer nicotine products should trump access to tobacco.
‘General retailers who sell vape products should not be limited to those retailers who also sell tobacco. We have not seen mention of this in the consultation document and hope that it is not an oversight on the part of the Ministry of Health, in their focus on limiting tobacco retailers to 600 in the country and not offering alternatives to adults.’
CAPHRA suggests those retailers who are no longer able to sell smoked tobacco products should be given the ability to sell closed system vapes in their premises – following guidelines for approval of a Specialist Vape Retailer.
On the proposals to reduce the appeal of vaping products to young people, specifically through restricting flavour names and introducing product safety requirements for single use vaping products, CAPHRA says one issue with this is that naming conventions are subjective.
‘The main issue, however, is that the regulations, as they are, work perfectly well. The issues are public education and enforcement. The regulations, as they are written, are working at getting citizens to make the switch from combustible tobacco to less harmful vaping.
‘What you are referring to as “product safety requirements” is in fact a ban on disposables. The secondary issue of limiting the nicotine content to 35mg/ml for nicotine salts for disposables only sets a precedent that can be replicated across the entire cadre of nicotine e-liquids currently available in New Zealand – in all systems,’ wrote CAPHRA.
The submission reinforced that New Zealand’s vaping regime is effective and has been a key component in the country’s track towards Smokefree Aotearoa 2025.
‘The adult smoking rate in New Zealand is the lowest it has ever been at 8% for 2022. In 2021 the smoking rate was 9.4%. Ten years ago (2012) the smoking rate in New Zealand was 18%.
‘Obviously, the regulations providing access and choice to alternatives to combustible tobacco are working and people are making the switch. Adults like flavours too (look at the flavoured alcohol products on the market).’
CAPHRA’s submission concluded that youth vaping is more an issue of public education and retail enforcement.