The complete ban of disposable vapes is a positive step forward in the fight against the youth vaping epidemic.

The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ, which has been calling for stricter vaping regulations for years, is pleased to see the Government finally taking action on cheap disposable vapes.

Foundation Chief Executive Ms Letitia Harding says banning single-use vapes is a positive move.

"This is a crucial step forward in combating the youth vaping epidemic and protecting the health of our rangatahi.

"We commend the Government for taking decisive action to address this important issue," she says.

"These products have been a gateway to nicotine addiction for far too many young people, for far too long, and their removal from the market will undoubtedly make a difference."

While it is also encouraging to see fines increase, there needs to be further investment into investigating and monitoring retailers to ensure they are adhering to the rules, Ms Harding says.

"Regulation is one thing, but enforcement is another.

"The Government needs to ensure they have people on the ground, checking, making sure retailers are following the rules."

The Foundation has also been calling for tighter restrictions on storefront displays - something the Government has promised to introduce.

"Many vape stores have colourful, vibrant, store fronts which make their products look even more intriguing and enticing," Ms Harding says.

"We want no products visible from the footpath to remove that curiosity to enter."

Currently, there are more than 1500 Specialist Vape Retailers (SVRs) registered in New Zealand - more than four times the number of KFC and McDonalds stores combined.

"That needs to be capped immediately and no new SVRs should be allowed to open," she says.

"They also need to ban vapes being sold in dairies - that is one of the easiest places for our youth to get their hands on these products."

Associate Health Minister Casey Costello’s comment about reusable vapes being "a key smoking cessation device" needs to be clarified, Ms Harding says.

Medsafe and the Vaping Regulatory Authority’s position on vaping products is that their purpose is principally recreational rather than therapeutic and that their use as a cessation aid for smokers is secondary.

No vaping product has been FDA approved for smoking cessation.

"What the Government needs to do is start investing in wraparound support services to help people quit vaping," Ms Harding says.

"Currently, no such support exists, leaving many youth unable to break the habit and addiction."

In New Zealand, about 15% of 15-17 year olds vape. In Australia, daily vaping rates are 2% among 12-15 year olds and 6% among 16-17 year olds.

The prescription-only model in Australia has probably played a very big part in this, she says.

"The proof is in the pudding - youth vaping rates across the ditch are lower.

"We now need to investigate the prescription-only model if the Minister truly sees vaping as a ‘key smoking cessation device’."


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