Election 2023: Labour vows to vaporise vaping industry by capping retailers

Labour's vowing to vaporise the vaping industry by stopping more than 6500 retailers from selling vape products. 

They'd cap the number of total retailers to just 600, a dramatic cut from the current 7130. 

A 'vaping retailer licence' would also be introduced in order to sell the products and the fine for selling vapes to under-18-year-olds will be increased to $15,000. 

The Director-General of Health would issue the licenses, and those within 300 metres of schools and marae would be at the back of the queue.

"That's the direction we want to go with it," said Labour health spokesperson Dr Ayesha Verrall.

It's a welcome policy for advocacy group Vape Free Kids NZ, which just last week was petitioning the Government for action.

"We're really pleased they're finally listening to the health experts and educators and us as parents," said spokesperson Charyl Robinson.

But dairy and vape shop owners are not happy.

"Thousands of businesses, they will go out of job," said Dairy and Business Owners Group chair Sunny Kaushal. "There would be huge job losses. There would be a huge number of small businesses going to be closed."

Asked if she knew how many job losses there will be, Dr Verrall replied: "No, no, but many of the vape stores we have don't just sell vapes." 

There'd also be a $15,000 fine for any retailer selling to those aged under-18, up from $10,000.

"I'd like to think it's a much stronger deterrent than what's currently in place," said Robinson. 

Dr Verrall said: "Vapes have been R18 for some time yet retailers have continued to sell to underage people."

Kaushal said corner dairies "are not selling to the younger population". 

It's Labour policy, not Government policy, so it depends on the outcome of the election.

Asked if the horse had already bolted, Labour leader Chris Hipkins said: "This one will be putting the horse back in the stable."

National leader Christopher Luxon said the party was "actually broadly supportive of the direction of travel with what the Government's put on the table".

Looks like National will help round up the bolted vape horse too.