New Regulations to Curb Youth Smoking Habits in NZ

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New Regulations to Curb Youth Smoking Habits in NZ
New regulations on e-cigarette sales aim to prevent youth smoking, but manufacturers seek loopholes, raising concerns.

An anti-smoking advocate claims that in order to stop young people from developing smoking habits, the previous government enacted new regulations last year. However, e-cigarette manufacturers are now seeking ways to circumvent these regulations.


Ben Youdan, director of Action for Smokefree 2025, expressed in an interview that he does not understand the "arbitrary regulations" of this ban.


In June 2023, the Labour government introduced new regulations aimed at restricting the availability of e-cigarette flavors that appeal to young people, as well as limiting the sale of cheap disposable e-cigarettes. They also stipulated that new e-cigarette stores cannot operate within 300 meters of schools or Maori tribes.


Starting from December, retailers, distributors, New Zealand manufacturers, and importers are required to sell disposable smoking products that comply with the 20mg/mL nicotine limit, have removable batteries, feature child-resistant mechanisms, and meet labeling requirements.


However, You Dan stated that he "does not understand the significance" of this, as he questions whether these regulations truly decrease smoking among young people.


This could increase the risks because suddenly you have to open up a device that was originally designed to be sealed, or a device designed with a built-in rechargeable battery, and now you have turned it into something that can be disassembled... Removing the battery could be more dangerous for those who are not technical experts.


Yu Dan stated that there may be a misconception that the low price of e-cigarettes means that these devices are disposable, when in fact some e-cigarettes cost as little as $10 but still comply with regulations. He said that low-priced e-cigarettes do serve a purpose, such as helping people transition from traditional cigarettes to e-cigarettes, but e-cigarettes themselves should not be in the "pocket money price" range to prevent children from being able to afford them.


Another solution could be to set a minimum price for disposable e-cigarettes, still keeping them affordable but placing them outside the pocket money price range.


He expressed that regulations including child locks have been almost ineffective in preventing teenagers from smoking. "Teenagers know how to unlock e-cigarettes... The issue is not whether they can unlock e-cigarettes, we need to understand the situation of young people and smoking.


Ben Prayle, a member of the New Zealand e-cigarette industry association, said in an interview that completely banning disposable e-cigarettes is the best way to reduce teen smoking.


Manufacturers have reduced prices under the new regulations by introducing a disposable e-cigarette similar to a Pod.


He said that e-cigarette products that do not meet regulations are still being sold on the shelves.


Yudan stated that New Zealand is "very late" in regulating e-cigarettes. "It wasn't until about three years ago that we established regulations regarding the sale of e-cigarettes and advertising methods," he said. He believes New Zealand needs to do more to prevent young people from smoking.


What we need to do now is strengthen and improve how we prevent young people from being exposed to e-cigarettes. We need to support the establishment of a safe environment, talk to young people about living in a world where e-cigarettes are available, and how to address this issue. Suspending students or using punitive measures as a last resort may at least make young people afraid of the consequences of smoking.


New Zealand's Deputy Minister of Health, Kasey Costello, said in an interview that the government is concerned about the appeal of e-cigarettes to young people. He stated that the National Party-New Zealand First coalition agreement promises reform of regulations on e-cigarette products. Last year, 55,000 people in New Zealand quit smoking, the largest decline in smoking rates, which would not have been possible without e-cigarette products.


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