“Over 17,000 Kiwis signed a Parliamentary petition on vaping, which was then completely ignored until five days after the vaping bill was passed. It’s so disappointing and shows what a sham the whole process has been from beginning to end,” says Nancy Loucas, co-director of Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy (AVCA).
Last week, close to midnight. Parliament rushed to pass the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Bill before rising for the election campaign.
“This key piece of legislation was passed under Urgency after the public submission period was shortened and oral submitters presented via teleconference. Then just before the bill was passed to a near-empty Parliament, Minister Jenny Salesa had to push through her own last-minute amendments, again proving the shortcomings of the bill and the process,” says Ms Loucas.
“When the bill was introduced into Parliament in late February, we held out so much hope. However, it soon became obvious that the Health Select Committee was disengaged at best. In fact, most MPs were completely disinterested in any evidence that showed how New Zealand could save more lives from deadly combustible tobacco.”
A big part of that evidence was on supporting smokers’ access to a wide range of vape flavours, as flavours have proven key to adults successfully quitting cigarettes.
However, the legislation now passed will soon mean general retailers will be allowed to sell just three vape flavours. Only specialist vape stores will be able to sell a wide range of flavours.
The vexed issue of flavours was central to AVCA’s petition that 17,357 people signed before it closed on 31 March. However, no MP bothered to present it during the bill’s process through the House, meaning the issue got less exposure and time.
AVCA’s petition to Parliament requested ‘That the House of Representatives debate the Government’s proposal to limit flavoured nicotine e-liquids to mint, menthol and tobacco’.
“The fact that Parliament finally passed the bill on 5 August and my petition got presented on 10 August after Parliament had risen really sums up this whole process. It least we tried to save more smokers’ lives. Sadly, the same can’t be said for our elected representatives,” says Nancy Loucas.
AVCA was formed in 2016 by vapers across New Zealand wanting their voices heard in local and central government. All members are former smokers who promote vaping to help smokers quit – a much less harmful alternative to combustible tobacco products. AVCA does not have any affiliation or vested interest in industry – tobacco, pharmaceutical and/or the local vaping manufacturing or retail sectors.