Health groups call for ban on disposable vapes in New Zealand

The New Zealand Asthma and Respiratory Foundation has joined with its Australian counterpart to call for a ban on disposable vapes in New Zealand.

The inexpensive and easily accessible products have been blamed for an explosion in the number of young people vaping.

And the call for a ban even has the support of the vaping industry.

Out on the street, people say they back a ban on disposable vapes.

"Yeah 100 percent - because these are so bad for me and I'm f***ing addicted," one person told Newshub.

And they're not alone.

"We know that they are harmful for the lungs, they are harmful to the circulatory system and the heart," said New Zealand Asthma and Respiratory Foundation (ARFNZ) CEO Letitia Harding.

On Monday ARFNZ demanded we follow Australia and ban disposable vapes - warning they've created a youth vaping epidemic.

"We've got 20 percent of our 14 to 15-year-olds vaping regularly. That's one in five," Harding said.

"They're waking up in the middle of the night to vape - they're taking them to the shower."

Even the vaping industry association of NZ supports a ban on disposables - saying it too wants to take an aggressive stance on youth vaping. They have a nine-point plan to do just that and banning disposables is one of them.

There are two types of vapes. The kind that can be refilled with vaping fluid and the ones that can't. It's the latter that people want to ban.

"They're very cheap - they're very easy to conceal. There's a low barrier of entry to them. And a catastrophic environmental impact as well," said Ben Youdan, from Action for Smokefree 2025.

The impact on the environment is hard to overstate. Keep NZ Beautiful says it's the country's 12th most common item of litter.

"We look at retail, residential, industrial, car parks and recreation, railways and highways and the vaping devices were found in all those places," its CEO Heather Saunderson told Newshub.

The Opposition said if it was elected it wouldn't rule out a ban.

"We're happy to look at this from a clean piece of paper. And we'd be happy to go as far as banning vapes," National leader Christopher Luxon said.

The Government has responded to the call to ban vapes, ruling out following suit - at least in this term.

"I am not happy with the current rates of vaping amongst young people which is why I have consulted on proposals with a better balance between vaping as a tool for smoking cessation and uptake of vaping by non-smokers," Minister of Health Dr Ayesha Verrall told Newshub in a statement.

"One way to change the current culture is through regulation, which is why we are currently looking at all options and an announcement will be made in coming weeks.

"Around 5000 people die each year in New Zealand because of smoking or second-hand smoke exposure."