The Government is at risk of killing New Zealand's Smokefree 2025 plans and decimating the local vaping industry, vaping advocates warn.
Vaping entrepreneur Ben Pryor, who runs Alt New Zealand - which he claims is the largest Kiwi-owned vaping company - says the industry is "increasingly agitated" by Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa.
They're worried she's pushing legislation which will target flavours and nicotine levels, which would be "completely counterproductive" to helping Kiwis quit smoking.
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"If the Government drops the nicotine levels by regulation to say one-fifth of that found in a conventional cigarette, then that will decimate the local vaping industry with only Big Tobacco coming out on top!" Pryor says.
"It would mean less smokers make a successful transition to vaping, so we'd see Kiwis quitting tobacco at a much slower rate.
"In fact, it's highly likely the outcome of all this could deliver the complete opposite of what the Government actually wants."
The vaping industry says vaping is the most effective smoking cessation tool due to its flavours and "sound yet safe" nicotine levels.
And a University of Otago study shows liberalising the rules around vaping products has led to a gain of 236,000 life years for the general population, and savings of $3.4 billion in the health system over their newly extended lifespans.
Salesa is expected to table the Smokefree Environments (Vaping) Amendment Bill in Parliament in the next few months which will regulate vaping, vaping products and e-cigarettes.
She says any changes will give smokers more confidence in vaping and smokeless tobacco products, while still keeping children and young people safe from the risks associated with them.
"I am concerned that colours and flavours may be utilised to attract non-smokers and young people to take up vaping. To address this issue, the Bill we will introduce soon will have a provision to address this," Salesa told Newshub on Sunday.
"The Bill will also clarify that nicotine vaping liquid is covered by the Smoke-free Environment Act, and extend coverage to include nicotine-free vaping liquid, and vaping and smokeless tobacco product devices and components.
"The Bill will allow the Government to strike a balance between giving smokers who wish to quit choices, options, and variety, while allowing products shamelessly targeting young people to be pulled from the shelves."