Retail restrictions ‘step in the right direction’ to curb youth vaping

Halting the surge in youth vaping around Aotearoa is behind legislation that came into effect this month – a move that has been welcomed by The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ (ARFNZ) while it also pushes for more to be done. 

Since mid-August, it has become illegal for general retailers in New Zealand to sell vaping or smokeless tobacco products containing flavours other than tobacco, mint and menthol. However, diverse e-liquid flavours will still be available from specialist outlets, enabling people who have switched from smoking to vapes and who want varied flavours, to access them from R18 outlets or specialist vape store websites.

The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ (ARFNZ) welcomes the move, which supports the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Act’s aim of ensuring vaping products aren’t marketed to young people.

“Flavours in e-liquids are undoubtedly attractive to young people, so restrictions on flavourings are vital to stem the tide of youth taking up this habit,” says Dr Stuart Jones, a member of ARFNZ’s Scientific Advisory Board and its Vaping Education Advisory Group.

“There is huge concern regarding the myriad of flavours used in these inhaled products; many of which have had no independent testing regarding their safety in the airways. There are many studies demonstrating they can be toxic to lung cells, and there are currently no consumer safety requirements in place.

“We look forward to this changing in February next year, when only vaping and smokeless tobacco products that have been notified and that meet product safety requirements will be available for purchase.”

The World Health Organisation recently released its 2021 report on the global tobacco epidemic, which addresses vaping and e-cigarettes. The report emphasises that Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS) are addictive and not without harm, and that they should be strictly regulated. The report also states that children and adolescents need to be protected from these products, which can double their risk of smoking cigarettes. It highlights the negative impact nicotine can have on brain development, leading to long-term consequences.

It’s great to see this report recognising the risk and harm these products can cause, and especially to children and young people,” says ARFNZ Chief Executive Letitia Harding.

“We now know that these products do have negative effects on cardiovascular and lung health, and that other long-term health issues are still unknown. A recently published article from the Canadian Journal of Cardiology highlights that for every smoker who quits using electronic cigarettes, 80 adolescents will become addicted to nicotine.

“Educating our rangatahi is vital. These products are harmful, and they need to know that.”

Due to increasing concerns about the large number of students who are vaping at secondary schools, both Dr Jones and the Foundation have been invited to speak in schools, in the hope that education will assist in curbing youth uptake.

ARFNZ’s Don’t Get Sucked In website ( offers vaping education and resources for teens, including printable posters in both English and Te Reo.  

Heather Barker Vermeer

Heather has worked as a journalist, writer and editor in England and Aotearoa New Zealand for over 20 years. She fell in love with words when she received a 'Speak & Spell' tech toy for Christmas in 1984.
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