About 2,132 million cigarettes were sold last year, amounting to 410 million fewer than just two years ago.
The fact that vaping is playing a major role in decreasing local smoking rates, is once again raising concerns that the Government’s move to restrict vaping flavours and potentially cap nicotine levels in vaping products will only slow such progress.
“This rapid decline in cigarette sales shows vaping products are clearly working. However, the Government’s over regulation of flavours will mean cigarette sales are set to get a boost. No wonder tobacco companies are welcoming the flavour restrictions as they will simply help preserve traditional tobacco’s longevity,” said Jonathan Devery, co-owner of Alt New Zealand and VAPO.
No teen vaping epidemic
On analysing revenue from tobacco sales, the End Smoking NZ found that in New Zealand, 2,132 million cigarettes were sold last year, amounting to 410 million fewer than just two years ago. Moreover, results from the annual ASH (Action for Smokefree 2025) survey, published earlier this year, found that not only are smoking rates on the decline amongst Kiwi teenagers, but additionally, vaping is not being taken up by non-smoking teens.
Assessing an ASH Year 10 survey of 27,083 students aged 14 and 15, University of Auckland researchers found that only 0.8% of the participants were daily vapers who’d never smoked before. Additionally, 3.1% of the respondents said they vaped daily, and 37.3% said they had tried it.
To this effect, concluded the researchers, there is no evidence of a teen vaping epidemic in New Zealand. “Our findings do not support the notion of a so-called vaping epidemic in New Zealand or a large youth population dependent on vaping – a finding consistent with the scarce international evidence.”
The Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Bill
Passed earlier this year, the infamous Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Bill which bans e-cig adverts and restricts flavours, has against the advice of tobacco harm reduction experts been rushed in time for elections.
“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. Adults love flavours, 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,” said Ben Pryor, co-owner of Alt New Zealand and VAPO.
Given the aforementioned ASH results and data indicating that flavours are essential in helping adult smokers make the transition to vaping, restricting flavours is unnecessary and counterproductive. “Earlier this year an extensive ASH study revealed very low levels of vaping among our mid-teenagers, with University of Auckland academics and even Associate Minister of Health Jenny Salesa declaring there is no youth vaping epidemic in New Zealand. Yet flavours will be restricted in some misguided attempt to fix something that’s not even a reality. Alarmingly all it does is play into the hands of Big Tobacco,” said Devery.
New Zealand’s Medicinal Cannabis Conference: MedCan Summit 2020