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Government proposes to treat vaping more like smoking

In brief

  • The Government is requesting feedback on its Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Amendment Act amendment.
  • The bill seeks to add restrictions such as where vape products can be sold.
  • Smoking in schools is down to near 1%, but 10% now vape, leading to increased suspensions of students.
  • The corner store industry says the law picks winners and would be a boon to gangs.

The proposal

The Government is seeking public feedback on its bill aimed at reducing teen vaping. The Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Amendment Act focuses on removing the attractiveness of vaping to young people. It would seek to put further restrictions to where vape products can be sold, as well as limitations – including the packaging used – to exclude names and branding.

The Associate Health Minister, Dr Ayesha Verrall, believes that while vaping is a tool used to help many stop smoking, “youth vaping rates are too high and we need to strike a better balance.” Some people who might not be smokers take it up, and while vaping is believed to be less damaging than smoking, it is still harmful.

Behind the bike shed

Echoing the Ministry of Health, schools have reported an increase in vape use. Data shows that 75% of the recent increase in stand downs included smoking or vaping as a reason for suspension.

Smoking in schools has reduced significantly, with only around 1% of high school students now smoking. Smokefree activist Ben Youdan believes that 10% of youth now vape.

Winning the powerball

According to a small amount of data from health services in Northland, shops that opted to remove tobacco products are not experiencing a negative financial impact. The new bill essentially seeks to expand on the aims of the SmokeFree 2025 Bill. Representative of Dairy and Business owners, Sunny Kaushal, says that business owners are now wanting to fight the SmokeFree 2025 Bill. He explains that the mandated reduction of outlets allowed to sell tobacco products, set to be cut to 10% its current number, seems like it will be a big loss to some and like “winning the powerball” for others. It is a prime example of the government picking winners.

Pushing tobacco and vape products into the black market could have a very negative effect, potentially creating a big opportunity for gangs looking for new revenue streams.

The biggest winners will be the gangs. Forget tinnie houses, say ‘hello’ to ciggie houses.

Sunny Kaushal

While there may be societal wins for reducing smoking, many of these small businesses are already under pressure from increased crime and inflation. There’s speculation any further Nanny State restrictions on vape products will make it harder for small family run businesses to make a profit in their industry. 

Is this the right way to regulate vices, or should consumers be free to decide for themselves? You decide.

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