With the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Act going into force, New Zealand’s general retailers including service stations, supermarkets and convenience stores, are only allowed to to sell three vape flavours: menthol, mint, and tobacco.
“It’s crazy that Kiwis desperate to quit cigarettes can walk into a service station and buy any cigarette brand under the sun. They can’t, however, access the most popular vapes flavours. It makes no sense when vaping has been proven to be 95% less harmful than smoking,” said Jonathan Devery, co-owner of the largest Kiwi-owned vape companies, Alt New Zealand and VAPO.
Adult smokers and ex-smokers wanting to use their preferred flavours, such as fruit and dessert, will now have to find a registered specialist vape store online or in person, to purchase the products. “If we are to reduce tobacco harm in society, we need to ensure assess to safer nicotine alternatives like vaping is easier, not harder. This is a totally misguided move that won’t help the kids and only punishes the adult Kiwis desperate to quit the cancer sticks,” said Nancy Loucas, co-director of the Government Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy (AVCA).
Any concerns related to teen vaping had already been addressed
Loucas highlighted that the necessary steps to prevent access of the products to minors have already been taken. Since 2020, it has been illegal to sell vaping products to anyone under 18, and consumer marketing and advertising has been banned, with much tougher rules around the likes of packaging, displays and signage.
“A full range of cigarettes and tobacco products remain widely available in supermarkets, service stations and dairies. Yet, from 11 August, adults can’t readily access their favourite vape flavours from those same retailers. Full access to deadly combustible cigarettes and limited access to safer alternatives is a shocking public health policy,” she said.
Vape flavours help adult smokers make the switch
The AVCA has long supported and advocated for the regulation of the products, however it adds, this latest measure is not a sensible one. Australian Public health expert and tobacco harm reduction advocate Dr. Colin Mendelsohn agrees, however he added that unlike its Australian counterpart, at least the NZ government clearly understands the potential of vaping as a safer alternative to smoking.
Meanwhile consistent with previous findings, another recent study aiming to understand the impact of factors such as device type and flavours on adult vapers’ choices, found that on average participants preferred non-tobacco and non-menthol flavours.