AVCA Questions Legality of New Zealand Tobacco Control Amendments

AVCA Questions Legality of New Zealand Tobacco Control Amendments
New Zealand's proposed tobacco regulations may unintentionally promote a black market and make smoking more attractive to youths.

Earlier this year, the New Zealand Parliament's health select committee reviewed proposed amendments related to smoke-free environments and tobacco control products submitted by members of the public. The Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy (AVCA) has claimed that one aspect of the proposed legislation may even be illegal.

The Smoke-free Environments and Regulated Products (Smoking Tobacco) Amendment Bill in New Zealand has limited the number of retailers who can sell tobacco products and banned sales to anyone born after 2009, in an effort to reduce the appeal and addiction of tobacco products.

The tobacco ban passed down through generations may potentially fuel the already existing black market, and inadvertently make smoking more attractive to young people.

Last year, AVCA was one of the local groups publicly calling for stronger enforcement. "Retailers have had plenty of time to distinguish right from wrong. I respect the government's initial focus on providing new legal education to retailers, but now it is time to start enforcement," they stated.

The AVCA has tentatively agreed to support the "smoke-free generation" initiative but expresses concern about potential overreach. The organization reminds us that New Zealand's current youth smoking rates are already well below the 2025 goal of 5% or less of regular smokers. AVCA co-founder Nancy Loucas made this statement.

At the same time, she emphasized the need for members of the select committee to study whether a ban on intergenerational tobacco would fuel existing black markets and inadvertently make smoking more attractive to typically rebellious youth.

Furthermore, when implemented on a large scale, a ban on smoking across generations may even be illegal. "All adults have the right to make wise choices. The government needs to be sure that this will be legally viable before implementing it. I am concerned that banning a consumer product when a group of people reach adulthood, while allowing access to other adult products such as alcohol, may not be fair," said Lucas.

Low-nicotine cigarettes also pose problems.

The AVCA also stated that the proposal to reduce nicotine levels in cigarettes by forcing the sale of very low nicotine cigarettes (VLNC) could pose problems. There is insufficient research to suggest that VLNCs help people quit smoking. In fact, data from countries that have set nicotine limits indicate that they may be harmful.

The government's strong stance on tobacco is good news, but it needs to ensure that generational bans and measures like VLNC are legally implemented while being closely watched worldwide. New Zealand is leading the way in promoting electronic cigarettes as an effective tool for quitting smoking. Now, it has the opportunity to showcase best practices in eliminating deadly smoking," added Lucas.

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