The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ has been calling for a ban on vapes being sold within one kilometre of schools and marae for years, and a complete stop to any more Specialist Vape Retailers (SVRs) from setting up.
The recently announced new proximity rules that will require a ban on Specialist Vape Retailers (SVRs) setting up within 300m of schools and marae after October 1, were put in place to try and help curb the youth vaping problem in New Zealand. However, the ban does not stop dairies and supermarkets within 300m of schools and marae from starting to sell vapes after October 1.
"These regulations are too soft to make any meaningful difference," says Foundation Chief Executive Letitia Harding. "If this Government was serious about addressing our youth vaping problem, then they would address the proliferation of SVRs around the country. We don’t need 1350 Specialist Vape Retailers - to put that into perspective, we only have 900 community pharmacies across New Zealand."
The Foundation is calling for an immediate stop to any more SVRs from setting up.
The Foundation is also disappointed that the Government has ignored calls for an outright ban on disposable vapes. Instead, new rules will be introduced, meaning all vapes must have removable or replaceable batteries. This rule is intended to ‘limit’ the availability of disposables.
"A ban on disposables was one of the few things that both health advocates and vaping industry spokespeople could agree on as a good way to protect young people from vaping harm. Yet the Government has left the door open for disposables with removable batteries to remain. These vapes are cheap and already available, so it will only be a matter of time before the vaping industry creates more of these products," Ms Harding adds. "Believe me, if there had been an outright ban on disposable vapes, we would have heard an uproar from the vaping shops selling these products."
Ms Harding says it is difficult to understand who the Government is taking advice from when it comes to vaping, or why the Government isn’t taking a stronger stance. "Youth vaping is now a significant health problem for young New Zealanders. Local data and overseas statistics show that around 20% of high school students are now regular vapers. We need stronger measures if we want to make a significant difference, and these regulations are just too soft," Ms Harding explains.
The Foundation is reiterating its call for a ban on vapes being sold within a one kilometre radius of schools and marae, a ban on non-refillable (disposable) vapes, a stop to anymore Specialist Vape Retailers from setting up, and for the nicotine content of all vape products to be reduced to 20 mg/ml.
It would also like to see no storefront advertising or visibility of products, and increased funding to support our youth who are now addicted to vaping.