Law change set to significantly reduce youth access to vapes – Retailers

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Specialist vape retailers say the introduction of new laws restricting the sale of most e-liquid flavours this week will significantly reduce underage access to the products.

New Government regulations under the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990 will mean thousands of dairies and service stations around NZ will be prohibited from selling vaping flavours other than tobacco, mint or menthol from August 11.

These three flavours are popular with smokers to help support their smoking cessation efforts. Specialist vape retailers also carry a more extensive range of fruit flavours.

Nabhik Gupta, spokesperson for Shosha, NZ’s largest retailer of e-cigarettes, says while his stores have a strictly enforced R18 policy he expects underage customers who have been purchasing from dairies and service stations will now find it harder to access more popular flavours.

“We know that the perception among under age people is that it’s easier to access vaping products from gas and convenience stores, but if they are limited to flavours traditionally favoured by smokers then we think they are going to attempt to purchase from our stores.

“In a bid to circumvent this happening we have reminded our managers and staff to ensure they are up to date with our in-store manual and policy around underage purchasing. Our existing protocols include asking for ID, ensuring signage 18+ is at the front of the store and clearly visible and refusing entry to anyone in a school uniform – even if they have ID.

“We do empower our staff to refuse service to anyone they believe is under-age and we have also seen some teens try and present false identification which we’ve then referred to police. Underage customers often get angry when refused service and we expect more of this to occur with the law changes,” he says.

Gupta says feedback from staff suggests the new regulations are already making it harder for underage youth to access vaping products.

He has also noticed an increase in purchases from adults of legal age changing from the closed pod systems available in convenience stores.

“We know that some convenience outlets have discontinued supply of some vaping flavours ahead of the law change – to avoid being stuck with surplus product they could not retail legally after August 11.

“The change has seen a surge in new customers moving to an open pod system.

“These provide customers with a way to customise the e-cigarette to suit their needs. It also means that the customer is more capable of controlling the volume of nicotine needed to help them on their path to quitting all together,” he says.

Gupta says while the law changes may put additional pressure on his stores and staff from under-age customers, he welcomes the new legislation which will go some way to better safeguard the misuse of vapes.

He says vapes provide a useful tool in helping those addicted to smoking to quit and expert opinion is that vaping products are much less harmful than smoking tobacco but not completely harmless.[1]

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