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Controversy over Featherston vape shop

A new vape shop in Featherston is facing opposition from locals.

At a recent Featherston Community Board Meeting school bus driver and Featherston resident, Kathryn Riwaka voiced her concerns about the store and called on the board to stop the opening.

The new shop, owned by Featherston Supervalue, is due to open today next to the supermarket and across the road from the Kuranui College bus stop.

Riwaka said school bus drivers already had a problem with a vape shop by the bus stop in Carterton.

“Some students are vaping on the bus and affecting the health of all the others.

“The other day, one student on the bus to Masterton had an asthma attack,” she said.

Riwaka said bus drivers could do little to stop it, citing an incident last week where a bus driver stopped driving because he was sick of the vaping, resulting in students late to school and complaints from parents.

“I talked to her [the woman opening the shop], and she was a nice lady; she said she would never sell to under 18-year-olds, but you know, if the shop is right there, it will make vapes more accessible.

“I know some of the older ones are buying vapes for the younger students,” Riwaka said.

Riwaka said she told the students on the bus that a vape shop was opening in Featherston, and they encouraged her to try to do something to stop it.

Currently, under New Zealand law, local councils have no provision to restrict the density or locations of vape shops.

Local Government New Zealand [LGNZ] has actively lobbied the central government to change this law.

LGNZ president Stuart Crosby said that between 2018 and 2021, daily vaping rose from 2 per cent to 10 per cent among 14 to 15-year-olds.

“While we support the supply of vapes to people wanting to stop smoking, we don’t want to see young people who have never smoked in their life taking it up.

“That means we must stop vapes from being so readily available in our dairies, supermarkets and service stations,” Crosby said.

The Ministry of Health said that vaping was less harmful than cigarettes.

However, research has found that the adolescent brain develops differently in the presence of nicotine than it would without it.

The long-term health effects of vaping are not known.

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Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls
Flynn Nicholls is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age who regularly writes about education. He is originally from Wellington and is interested in environmental issues and public transport.

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