By: Emma Russell

A ban on vaping in bars, restaurants and workplaces is being proposed as part of the Government’s plans to regulate the product.

Plans to change the way vaping products were being displayed in retail stores were also in motion in a bid to protect children from taking it up.

Associate Minister of Health Jenny Salesa today announced the Smoke-free Environments Act 1990 (SFEA) would be amended next year.

Salesa said the aim of the proposed regulations was to give smokers more confidence in the quality of vaping and smokeless tobacco products, while also protecting children and young people from the risks associated with them.

Although vaping was significantly less harmful than smoking it was not completely risk free, Salesa said.

“That’s why we need to make it as safe as possible and protect young people from taking it up,” she said.

Dr Robert Beaglehole – Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) chair and professor in public health at Auckland University – said in general he welcomed this announcement as it indicated the Government was taking the 2025 Smokefree goal more seriously.

“The trade off is encouraging smokers to use them, protecting children and not offending non-smokers.”

Beaglehole said he understood why the Government had chosen to ban vaping in places where smoking was already prohibited as people didn’t want vaping in their faces.

“But I still think we should be doing everything we can to encourage smokers to switch to vaping and anything that restricts that we need to seriously consider.”

Salesa said the new regulations followed findings from the Ministry of Health’s public consultation in 2016 which showed overwhelming support for the continued prohibition of sales of vaping products to under 18 year olds.

“The public will have a say on the legislative amendments proposed. That opportunity will come next year when the select committee calls for submissions. The Ministry will also consult on implementation of the changes,” Salesa said.

In 2016/17, 13.8 per cent (about 529,000) of adults were daily smokers. That’s down from 14.2 per cent of adults in 2015/16 and 18.3 per cent the previous year, Salesa said.

But she said there were still an estimated 5,000 smoking related deaths every year and that was unacceptable.

“The best thing smokers can do for their health and that of their whānau is to quit altogether but sometimes it’s tough and I understand how difficult it can be.

“The Government is committed to improving health outcomes and the wellbeing of all New Zealanders. This is another step toward achieving a smoke-free country by 2025,” Salesa said.

QJ Stachell, managing director of NZ Vaping Alliance, who has been lobbing the Government to regulate the industry for the last five years, said this announcement was a step in the right direction.

“Now we know there will be a minimum standard suppliers will have to hit and I think that will be good for the industry.”

The owner of NZ Vapor and Qwit Ltd said the risk for having no regulation was the potential for cowboys to make the product in the bathroom or garage and be able to sell it anywhere.

Stachell said he got into the industry six years ago after vaping helped him “accidentally quit smoking.”

“My brother sent me a first generation vape from the States and unintentionally I ended up substituting it for smoking.

“I thought why isn’t this a thing and it turned out it was overseas, so I decided to start my own business here.”

His product was made in California and when the customer purchased it, it was shipped directly to the buyer.

“It was hard because it meant the client had to wait a week to get it but it meant we weren’t breaking any laws which gave us strength in our argument when lobbing the government for these regulations.

“It’s incredibly frustrating when you are running a clean business and there are guys down the road who were able to sell it over the counter.

“We have the opportunity in New Zealand to be world leaders in smoking replacement so if we want to be world players we need to act like world players,” Stachell said.

Source: NZ Herald


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