Vape shop security will worsen if draft regulations pass

/New Zealand, April 6/ Concerns raised in the vaping industry about shop security could become a wider reality if proposed regulations add more cost and scarcity to vaping products, says a leading Kiwi tobacco harm reduction advocate.

The Ministry of Health is currently reviewing 2,518 submissions on its draft vaping regulations. However, with some vape shops recently experiencing violent smash and grabs, there’s concern further heavy-handed industry regulation will make matters worse.

“Vaping consumers support regulation and high product safety standards. However, under the proposed regulations, vape manufacturers and retailers will be hit hard with many compliance costs. That will only make vape products more expensive and increasingly sought-after by criminals,” says Nancy Loucas, co-director of Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy (AVCA). 

Further, the Ministry’s plan to remove all but three vape flavours from general retail, effective from 11 August, will alarmingly add scarcity into the mix. Registered specialist vape stores will be targeted by burglars and shoplifters as they’ll be only ones permitted to stock and sell a wide range of vape flavours. 

“Over time, burglaries may impact vapers access to flavours and equipment as some vape shop owners will possibly bow out of the market fearing safety concerns,” she says.

Ms Loucas says while general retail such as supermarkets, service stations and convenience stores will be limited to just three flavours – mint, menthol, and tobacco – strong demand for popular fruit and dessert vape flavours will remain.

Most adults have successfully switched using fruit and dessert flavours and they enjoy them. That’s how so many have successfully quit smoking cigarettes.

“If the Ministry makes these flavours harder to find, sadly some Kiwis will head underground – obtaining unregulated or illegally-sourced products which would be a terrible public policy outcome,” she says.

Ms Loucas says there remains two key opportunities for change: The Ministry of Health will finalise the regulations, and Cabinet will approve them by the end of June.

“Given recently publicised vape shop break-ins, the Ministry has confirmed it could make changes to the regulations if necessary. Even if it doesn’t, Cabinet could make its own amends to support consumers, businesses, and ultimately New Zealand’s smokefree ambition,” she says.

AVCA will continue to call on Health Minister Andrew Little, Associate Health Minister Dr Ayesha Verrall, Minister of Small Business Stuart Nash, and Maori Health Minister Peeni Henare to closely scrutinise the Ministry’s vaping regulations, and their impacts, before signing them off.

Kiwi leads petition imploring WHO to end lies on vaping

/21 March, New Zealand/ Vaping advocates in the Asia-Pacific region have launched a petition that urges the World Health Organisation (WHO) to respect consumer rights and end lies against innovative nicotine products.

“Stop lying to us and only provide guidance based on sound scientific facts, methodologies and principles,” the Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (CAPHRA) and other consumer advocacy groups said in the Right2Switch petition.

The petition was launched during the 2021 Voices4Vape webinar on 21 March. The petition can be viewed and signed at https://change.org/v4v-petition

Leading Kiwi vaping advocate Nancy Loucas, who is Executive Coordinator of CAPHRA, says WHO continues to insist that safer nicotine products, such as vapes or e-cigarettes, are as harmful and dangerous as combustible tobacco and should be banned or heavily restricted.

“This is a lie, as vaping has been life-changing for many smokers in all parts of the world, helping millions of former smokers to quit cigarettes,” says Ms Loucas.

The petition implores WHO and health authorities around the world to regulate based on sound scientific facts that include consumer participation as part of the decision-making process.

Tobacco Harm Reduction or THR is a public health strategy that involves the use of less harmful alternatives to combustible cigarettes such as vapes, heated tobacco products and snus which do not produce smoke. Toxicants found in smoke are the ones that cause diseases among smokers, according to scientific studies.

Nancy Loucas says a vast body of independent peer-reviewed scientific studies clearly show that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking.

“Millions of former smokers have successfully switched to safer nicotine products and are now living better lives, not just for themselves but for their loved ones too. WHO, however, is trying to prohibit or heavily restrict the use of these products,” she says.

She believes WHO’s actions put many lives at risk. Smokers will not be able to choose a safer alternative and it may force the millions who have already successfully switched to less harmful nicotine products, back to the very thing that will cause harm and eventually kill them.

“As adults, we have every right to choose how we live our lives – the right to make informed choices for our health, including the choice to use safer nicotine products as an alternative to combustible tobacco. A solution to the world’s smoking problem is already here. We need to make WHO FCTC hear us,” according to the petition.

Nancy Loucas is also Co-Director of Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy (AVCA), which is a member CAPHRA.

About CAPHRA

The Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Advocates (CAPHRA) is a regional alliance of consumer tobacco harm reduction advocacy organisations. Its mission is to educate, advocate and represent the right of adult alternative nicotine consumers to access and use of products that reduce harm from tobacco use.

https://caphraorg.net/

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Contact: Nancy Loucas, Executive Director of CAPHRA (Coalition of Asia-Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates) – (027) 234-8463.

Banning sweeteners in vapes would be ‘catastrophic’

14 March, New Zealand – The largest Kiwi-owned vape company, VAPO, believes the Ministry of Health’s proposal to ban sweeteners in e-liquids will cause ‘catastrophic disruption’ for those Kiwis relying on them to successfully transition from smoking to much less harmful and less expensive vaping.

As well as mass migration back to cigarettes, VAPO fears the move will wipe out New Zealand’s local, independent vape industry and hundreds of jobs.

VAPO and Alt New Zealand co-owners, Jonathan Devery and Ben Pryor, have submitted their company’s feedback on the Ministry’s draft vaping regulations. They’re now encouraging others in the industry, vapers, and smokefree champions to do the same by 5.00pm on Monday, 15 March.

The move comes on top of the proposed flavour ban which will see general retailers – such as supermarkets, service stations and convenience stores – only allowed to sell the three flavours of mint, menthol and tobacco from 11 August.

“Our analysis shows over 95% of the 200-plus flavour concentrates in our manufacturing facility contain some form of sweetening agent. An all-out ban on sweeteners is essentially a total flavour ban, with nearly every vaping product immediately outlawed. Effectively, this proposed regulation kills the industry and local businesses will have no other option but to fold,” says Jonathan Devery.

The Kiwi vaping entrepreneurs say there’s no scientific basis whatsoever for a blanket ban. They say sweetening agents make flavours what they are, and flavours have proven key for adult smokers trying to quit deadly cigarettes.

“Vaping products without additives such as sweeteners quite simply results in flavours that will be unpalatable. The flavour of the products will be so bitter that very few, if any, individuals will be able to continue vaping. If this proposed regulation remains unchanged, traditional tobacco products will be more palatable than vaping products,” says Mr Devery.

What’s more, the company’s submission says a total ban was not Parliament’s intention when it passed the legislation to regulate vaping last year, nor does it reflect the advice from the Ministry of Health given during the bill’s consultation process.

VAPO says it’s dumbfounded by the sweetener ban given the Heath Promotion Agency’s past campaigns, and the Ministry of Health’s generally positive approach to the vaping industry and its products.

‘Not even the strongest vaping critics are lobbying to ban flavours or sweeteners in vaping.’

VAPO believes banning sweeteners also comes with considerable safety concerns. There is a risk that other flavouring chemicals will be used in higher, and potentially unsafe, quantities in an attempt to make flavours more palatable. Many vapers would also opt for unregulated and untested e-liquids on the black market.

As for any argument that sweet flavours attract children, VAPO says there has been no evidence tabled that shows sweeteners, or flavours in general, are attracting young non-smokers to vaping.

In fact, before the legislation was passed, the Ministry of Health accepted that flavours add to the appeal – therefore the success – of vaping as a quit smoking tool and never recommended the Health Select Committee should ban sweet flavours or flavours in general.

‘There is no justification for effectively removing all flavours available across the industry by banning sweeteners… any issues that may arise in the future with specific flavours can be addressed through the legislation now in place.’

VAPO says at the very least vaping must be on an even playing field with combustible cigarettes. Yet the Ministry of Health in ‘The Chemical Constituents in Cigarettes and Cigarette Smoke, March 2020’ report states that over 10% of cigarettes could be sugars and various sweeteners.

‘Consumers will simply not switch, and current vapers will move back to smoking once cigarettes start tasting better… Reducing the palatability of vaping will only help line the pockets of tobacco companies,’ wrote VAPO.

“This completely tips the balance back to the tobacco industry which have been preying on our whanau, family, and loved ones for generations. If unchanged, this move will only strengthen Big Tobacco’s grip on our at-risk communities for years to come,” says Jonathan Devery.

Submissions on the draft vaping regulations close on 5.00pm on Monday 15 March, via https://www.health.govt.nz/publication/smokefree-environments-and-regulated-products-act-1990-proposals-regulations

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Contact: Jonathan Devery – Director of Alt New Zealand – (027) 886-0796

Contact: Ben Pryor – Director of Alt New Zealand – (027) 223-2006

Kiwi Group Argues Against Curtailing Flavors


End Smoking NZ group has urged the government of New Zealand to curtail legislation set to impede vapor product sales.

The government aims to restrict vapor product flavors to three varieties—mint, menthol and tobacco. End Smoking NZ fears the rule will drive people who have used vapor products to quit smoking back to cigarettes.

“This rapid decline in cigarette sales shows vaping products are clearly working,” said Ends Smoking NZ in statement. “However, the government’s over-regulation of flavors will mean cigarette sales are set to get a boost. No wonder tobacco companies are welcoming the flavor restrictions as they will simply help preserve traditional tobacco’s longevity.”

 In 2019, cigarette sales totaled 2.13 billion pieces in New Zealand.

“The success of vaping, and the huge dent it has made on cigarette sales, is due to the accessibility and appeal of vaping to adult smokers,” said Ben Pryor, co-owner of Alt New Zealand and VAPO. “Adults love flavors, and those successfully transitioning from cigarettes to vaping need comparable nicotine. If you tighten the screws on both, you are simply making it harder for Kiwis to quit smoking and that’s a very poor public health outcome.”



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NZ Vaping Petition Presented to Parliament Five Days Too Late


“Over 17,000 Kiwis signed a Parliamentary petition on vaping, which was then completely ignored until five days after the vaping bill was passed. It’s so disappointing and shows what a sham the whole process has been from beginning to end,” said Loucas.

The public submission period was shortened by the Minister’s request, and oral submitters had to present via teleconference during the height of lockdown, naturally already a stressful time for everyone.

Earlier this month, New Zealand’s Parliament rushed to pass the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Bill before rising for the election campaign. Together with many other tobacco harm reduction advocates, Loucas has previously expressed disappointment at the fact that Parliament was only going to be sitting for three weeks before the bill was going to be given a second reading.

The public submission period was shortened by the Minister’s request, and oral submitters had to present via teleconference during the height of lockdown, naturally already a stressful time for everyone. “We’ve been calling for legislation for years, and to think it could now be rushed through under Urgency is completely unacceptable. Sadly, the only winners will be the shareholders of multinational corporations,” said Loucas at the time.

“Given time is now short, Parliament should do the right thing and debate the bill after the election. Then MPs will have a fresh mandate and be more focused to deal with the many complex issues the proposed regulation brings.”

Vape bill rushed in time for elections

Kiwi smokers and vapers have been let down by a disengaged Health Select Committee, which sided with opponents’ emotion, rather than basing the bill on scientific evidence.

However, none of the above was considered and the bill was passed unamended. “This key piece of legislation was passed under Urgency after the public submission period was shortened and oral submitters presented via teleconference. Then just before the bill was passed to a near-empty Parliament, Minister Jenny Salesa had to push through her own last-minute amendments, again proving the shortcomings of the bill and the process,” said Loucas.

She had already pointed out that New Zealand smokers and vapers have been down by a disengaged Health Select Committee, which sided with opponents’ emotion, rather than basing the bill on scientific evidence. “As it stands, general and online-only vape retailers will be permitted to sell just three vape flavours – mint, menthol, and tobacco. Adults, however, love flavours. That’s how they successfully switch from cigarettes. By limiting flavours, you’re just limiting the opportunities smokers have to quit tobacco.” Sadly, this seems even more the case now.

Vapers ignored

The AVCA’s petition to Parliament had requested “that the House of Representatives debate the Government’s proposal to limit flavoured nicotine e-liquids to mint, menthol and tobacco.” Shockingly, the petition was not even looked at until five days after the bill had already been passed.

“The fact that Parliament finally passed the bill on 5 August and my petition got presented on 10 August after Parliament had risen really sums up this whole process. At least we tried to save more smokers’ lives. Sadly, the same can’t be said for our elected representatives,” says Nancy Loucas.

New Zealand: Vape Brand Alt Launches Advertising Campaign Before Ban



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New Zealand: Vape Brand Alt Launches Advertising Campaign Before Ban

“Kiwi-owned vape businesses are disappointed the Government is rushing through its vaping legislation in time for the election campaign, while the local industry remains completely in the dark over the regulations,” said Vaping Trade Association of New Zealand (VTANZ) spokesperson, Jonathan Devery last month.

The Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Bill

The Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Bill has now been passed without the recommended amendments, and the vaping industry has three months to update itself in order to be compliant with the new regulations.

Devery’s comments came just as the final stages of the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Bill were being debated. Sadly, the bill has now been passed without the recommended amendments, and the vaping industry has three months to update itself in order to be compliant with the new regulations.

 

In response to this, the largest Kiwi-owned vape company co-owned by Devery and Ben Pryor, is investing significantly in what will be the last marketing campaign before the bill goes into effect next November. Pryor and Devery have previously pointed out that this advertising ban will only benefit Big Tobacco.

“Alcohol advertising is allowed, yet vaping which has helped achieve record-low smoking rates and hasn’t killed one Kiwi, is not. It makes little sense and will simply lead to less New Zealanders giving up cigarettes,” says Pryor.

Advertising should be regulated not banned

While the bill bans any adverts related to vaping products, public health messages approved by the Director-General of Health, such as those in smoking cessation campaigns, will be permitted.

“The industry would be very happy to use its profits to promote vaping as an incredibly effective way to quit smoking. We would adhere to any heavily regulated advertising and message restrictions. Limited advertising works well in the UK, but unfortunately New Zealand businesses will soon lose any opportunity to reach out to smokers,” said Pryor.

New Zealand’s Vaping Bill is Passed  


“Kiwi-owned vape businesses are disappointed the Government is rushing through its vaping legislation in time for the election campaign, while the local industry remains completely in the dark over the regulations,” said Vaping Trade Association of New Zealand (VTANZ) spokesperson, Jonathan Devery last month.

The bill has now been passed without the recommended amendments, and the vaping industry has three months to update itself in order to be compliant with the new regulations.

“As the bill stands, the regulations will take effect a few months after its given Royal Assent. However, alarmingly the industry still doesn’t know any detail around the many proposed regulations. We are absolutely committed to ensuring all our products and practices comply, but it’s difficult when there remains so much uncertainty,” he added.

Devery’s comments came just as the final stages of the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Bill were being debated. Sadly, the bill has now been passed without the recommended amendments, and the vaping industry has three months to update itself in order to be compliant with the new regulations.

The Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Vaping Amendment Bill will include the following rules:

  • “Ban the sale of vaping products to those under the age of 18.
  • Prohibit advertising the products and encouraging people to buy them in-store.
  • Limit the sale of all flavours to specialist stores, including online retailers, with shops Like dairies, supermarkets and petrol stations restricted to mint, menthol and tobacco.
  • Allow speciality stores to continue offering loyalty points and discounts.
  • Ban vaping in cars with children.
  • Enable all retailers to display products in-store.
  • Provide a framework for regulations to be set where people are allowed to vape in or outside premises.
  • Introduce a safety system which would allow the Ministry of Health to recall products, suspend them and issue warnings.”

A missed opportunity

Tobacco harm reduction expert and co-director of the Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy (AVCA) Nancy Loucas, reiterated that this bill constitutes a missed opportunity. “New Zealand has missed its best opportunity to get as close as possible to Smokefree 2025, with the vaping legislation sadly falling well short,” she said.

In line with the comments by VTANZ, the AVCA has also recently voiced disappointment in the fact that the public submission period for the bill was shortened on Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa’s request. “This has been a poor process from beginning to end with vaping advocates, consumers and businesses forced to respond in a totally sub-optimal way. It didn’t have to be like this. This legislation could’ve been so much better and would’ve saved more lives from deadly combustible tobacco, but sadly the political blinkers were on,” she said.

Additionally, said Loucas, it is disappointing that MP Nicky Wagner’s proposed amendment to legalise oral tobacco-free nicotine pouches wasn’t supported, when this would have given Kiwi smokers another safer alternative to turn to in order to help them quit and keep off smoking with no adverse health problems.

“Then there’s our parliamentary petition that 17,357 people signed nearly six months ago. It obviously counted for nothing and we’re still awaiting Parliament’s response! Parliament unfortunately sided with the opponents’ emotion not the evidence. Let’s just hope New Zealand’s record-low smoking rate doesn’t start rising. MPs have been warned,” said Nancy Loucas.

Read Further: NZ Herald

New Zealand’s 2020 Budget Did Not Raise Tobacco Taxes



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New Zealand un-bans vaping, says it’s good for public health


The government of the islands of New Zealand – a country of 5 million people off the coast of Australia, has reversed its ban on nicotine-containing vape juice.

In a bold move, the New Zealand government also decided to exempt nicotine containing liquids from the strong tobacco control laws in New Zealand – a country where cigarettes are sold in plain packages with some of the highest excise taxes in the world.

“That’s an important thing”, said New Zealand Health Minister Nicky Wagner, “so that when a smoker goes into the dairy, he or she will see cigarettes at a very high price and e-cigarettes much cheaper.”

It’s not all good news, however, as vaping will be banned in enclosed public spaces. But on the whole, vape shop owners were happy with the decision – to date they have been providing nicotine-free eliquid at their stores. While the addition to nicotine in stores is not uncommon in the country, no-one has ever been arrested for it.

Cosmic, which claims to be the country’s leading e-cigarette retailer, and its owner Mark Carswell, were delighted by the decision.

“We stand behind the counter day after day. We’re at the coalface,” he said. “We have smokers who’ve been smoking 30, 40 years saying this is the best thing that’s happened to them.”

Peter Beckett is MD of Beckett Associates



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New Zealand’s 2020 Budget Did Not Raise Tobacco Taxes


“It’s good news the Minister of Finance didn’t use this Budget to hike tobacco tax, as has been the case for the past four years,” said Nancy Loucas, Director of Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy (AVCA). Loucas believes that while tobacco tax is used as a way of gaining revenue, it has a negative impact on vulnerable groups and does little to motivate the public to quit smoking.

“AVCA does not support tobacco tax hikes. Too often they’ve been used as a revenue gathering exercise and always hit the vulnerable the hardest.”

“AVCA does not support tobacco tax hikes. Too often they’ve been used as a revenue gathering exercise and always hit the vulnerable the hardest. They’re terribly regressive and I would argue have had little impact on the likes of Maori with 31% still smoking. Sure, we’ve seen New Zealand’s overall smoking rates fall to a record 12.5% low, but that’s largely due to education and the arrival of vaping,” she said.

The AVCA believes that education and the availability of safer alternatives is the way forward in decreasing smoking rates, added Loucas. “We support the Government investing in campaigns via its own Health Promotion Agency to encourage smokers to switch to vaping. However, we don’t support the Government effectively taxing our poorest households more. Thank goodness that has stopped.”

“The Government is right to stop harming smokers. It would’ve made nominal difference to our smoking rates, inflicting more pain on our poorest households. Instead, it now needs to deliver progressive vaping regulation to ensure more Kiwi smokers make the switch to something that’s considerably less harmful to both their health and back-pockets,” she said.

Big tobacco uses taxes as an excuse to raise tobacco prices

The last annual tobacco tax increase was of 11.5%, and went into effect on January 1st this year, taking an average pack of 25 cigarettes to over $41. Meanwhile, a recent analysis has indicated that Kiwi tobacco companies have been using annual tax increases to cover significant voluntary price hikes.

Professor Richard Edwards, an Otago University academic and co-director of the ASPIRE 2025 project, is pointing out that excessive and hidden voluntary price hikes are a common practice of tobacco companies across the globe. “The industry tends to portray itself as fighting tax increases so as to help out smokers, when really it is clear they often use such increases to bring in price increases that they blame on the government.”

The analysis indicated that these voluntary price increases by tobacco companies in New Zealand have been hiding in plain sight. While regular tax increases have increased the price of an average cigarette pack by approximately $1.70 per year, tobacco companies have simply added an extra $1 to go into their own pockets.

New Zealand Launches a World-First Vapes’ Recycling Programme 



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New Zealand government advises smokers to drop cigarettes and pick up vapes

Although the use of electronic cigarettes is banned in more and more public places, the use of electronic cigarettes will soon be promoted by the Ministry of Health as a safer alternative to cigarettes.

An official New Zealand website that provides information and advice on electronic cigarettes will be launched this month and a quit-smoking campaign will be launched in August.

The campaign replaces cigarettes with electronic cigarettes to help smokers quit smoking.

Especially for young Maori women, New Zealand’s total smoking rate is 13.8%, while Maori women’s smoking rate is as high as 32.5%.

The campaign marked a change in the position of the Ministry of Health, which has been cautious about the position of e-cigarettes.

A spokesman said that for smokers who want to quit smoking, “Vaping is a safe way”.

The scientific community agreed that the harm of electronic cigarettes is significantly lower than that of cigarettes, and it is likely to replace cigarettes to quit smoking, but more research is needed to prove it.

NZ VAPE ADVOCACY

NZ VAPE ADVOCACY

It is reported that a man named Danfoster started using electronic cigarettes ten years ago.

It also says that switching from cigarettes to electronic cigarettes is not only cheaper, but also seems to solve some health problems.

“I used to get a very serious sinus infection every three months, and now it’s completely gone,” Danfoster said.

He spends about $17 a pack of cigarettes a day, but he now spends up to $35 a week on e-liquids.

Ashburton spokesman Ben Youden said there was still a lot of misunderstanding about e-cigarettes, many people still thought it was as bad as smoking, and research showed that e-cigarettes were 95% less harmful than cigarettes.

Although the initial cost of e-cigarette equipment ranged from $50 to $100, financial gains quickly compensated for that cost.

In more than a year, the cost of using electronic cigarettes is only about 10% of that of cigarettes.