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Up in smoke

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Regulation to limit vape flavours

TOM TAYLOR
[email protected]

New regulations aim to prevent minors and non-smokers from picking up vaping habits.

From Wednesday, generic stores, such as convenience stores, supermarkets, and service stations, could only sell three different flavours of vape products. Specialised vape stores could continue to sell their full range of products.

The changes come as one of New Zealand’s largest vape retailers brings a store to Masterton.

Shosha planned to open a branch on Queen St later this month, joining Masterton’s existing store, Vendetta Vape Lounge.

From Wednesday, generic stores could only sell tobacco, menthol, or mint-flavoured vape products – flavours that were already familiar to smokers.

The new regulations were part of the November 2020 amendments to the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990.

The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ welcomed the move to ensure vape products did not target young people.

“Flavours in e-liquids are undoubtedly attractive to young people, so restrictions on flavourings are vital to stem the tide of youth taking up this habit,” ARFNZ vaping education advisory group member Dr Stuart Jones said.

Shosha spokesperson Nabhik Gupta said the changes meant underage customers purchasing vape products from dairies and service stations would find it more difficult to access popular flavours.

“We know that the perception among underage people is that it’s easier to access vaping products from gas and convenience stores. If they are limited to flavours traditionally favoured by smokers, then we think they are going to attempt to purchase from our stores,” Gupta said.

Shosha had reminded its managers and staff to keep up to date with its policy on underage purchasing.

“Our existing protocols include asking for identification, ensuring 18+ signage is at the front of the store and clearly visible, and refusing entry to anyone in a school uniform – even if they have an ID,” Gupta said.

Masterton dairy owner Raj Patel said he had the same policy.

“Electronic smoke or vaping products are 18+ products,” Patel said. “If you see under 25-year-olds in store, you definitely need to ask for ID.”

On Tuesday, Patel had removed all non-compliant vape products from the display in his store.

“From today, we are going to check how sales are going and what the response is from customers.

“It will make a difference to them, but then slowly, they will make a habit of it.”

Patel had only brought vape products into his store last year. He said that after a period in which customers had adjusted to the change, his tobacco product sales had decreased by 40-50 per cent, while vape sales had increased.

He said he would closely monitor the effect of the new regulations on his vape and cigarette sales.

However, Patel said they were changes that needed to happen.

“The fruity flavours are going to be deleted – those are definitely for people of a young age.”

Associate Minister of Health [Dr] Ayesha Verrall said on Wednesday that further regulations would cover packaging, product safety, and the responsibilities of manufacturers and importers selling vaping products or smokeless tobacco products.

“This legislation is focused on a healthier future for Aotearoa,” Verrall said.

“It strikes a balance between ensuring these products are not marketed or sold to young people while ensuring vaping products are available for smokers who want to switch to a less harmful alternative,” she said.

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