New Zealand THR Group Says That Current Vape Flavour Restrictions Are Flawed

In a submission to Parliament’s Health Select Committee on the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Smoked Tobacco) Amendment Bill, tobacco harm reduction group: Action for Smokefree 2025 (ASH) highlighted that the current retail restrictions imposed on vape flavours are counterproductive to achieving the smoke-free goal. 

The co-founder of Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy (AVCA) Nancy Loucas, said that ASH is 100% right in its arguments and added that limiting vaping flavours will have a negative impact in achieving Smokefree Aotearoa 2025. Her comments follow ASH’s submission to Parliament’s Health Select Committee on the imminent tobacco bill restricting the sales of flavoured vapes to specialist stores.

“Current limits on general retailers to sell only tobacco, mint, and menthol closed vape systems are flawed and harmful. Expanding the range to at least an additional two flavours popular with adults would ensure former smokers, and those quitting had access to flavours that help them with abstinence from smoking,” wrote ASH in its submission.

The group went on to label these restrictions as “counterproductive and in opposition to the evidence,” while Loucas explained that setting in place such restrictions would only undermine smoking cessation efforts by adult smokers who may have a preference for these flavours.

Why local Convenience-Meet-Vape-Shops Are Problematic
Meanwhile in another release discussing the submissions to the Health Select Committee, Loucas, highlighted why “hybrid” vape shops ie. convenience shops/dairies that are now also operating as vape shops, are problematic and need addressing. She explained that there too many convenience stores operating as licenced ‘Specialist Vape Retailers’, and this makes a mockery of New Zealand’s vaping laws.

The AVCA was always amongst the local groups publicly calling for greater enforcement of retailers. The group highlighted that actual specialist vape stores are generally compliant and that any issues of non-compliance seem to be specifically caused by general convenience shops/dairies, which close part of their shops to sell the products.

While as per the new bill general retailers are only allowed to sell three flavours – mint, menthol, and tobacco, licenced Specialist Vape Retailers (SVRs) can stock a full range of flavours. To this effect, many retailers such as convenience stores have separated off part of their premises and registered that space as an SVR.

An increase in vape retailers
Moreover, explained Loucas, as a consequence of this increase in vape retailers, there has been an increase in illegal vape sales to minors, as unlike actual SVRs these stores are not being run by trained and dedicated vape retailers.

“I’ve entered one of these ‘hybrid’ places and asked simple questions, but they were unable to assist. Questions like ‘what is the difference between 30mg and 50mg’ and ‘what is the best system for me to use if I smoke two packs of Holiday per day?’ They had no idea. They are not equipped to handle helping people switch to safer nicotine products at all,” she says.

The Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Smoked Tobacco) Amendment Bill
The new Smoke-free bill limits the number of retailers able to sell tobacco products, prohibits sales to anyone born in 2009 or after, and aims to make tobacco products less appealing. It also proposes that retailers, such as convenience stores, must notify the Director-General of Health if they are selling vaping products.

To obtain an SVR license, a store must consist of a fixed permanent structure, must be appropriate to operate as a stand-alone business, and 70% of its total sales should go towards vaping products.