“Over 17,000 Kiwis signed a Parliamentary petition on vaping, which was then completely ignored until five days after the vaping bill was passed. It’s so disappointing and shows what a sham the whole process has been from beginning to end,” said Loucas.

The public submission period was shortened by the Minister’s request, and oral submitters had to present via teleconference during the height of lockdown, naturally already a stressful time for everyone.

Earlier this month, New Zealand’s Parliament rushed to pass the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Bill before rising for the election campaign. Together with many other tobacco harm reduction advocates, Loucas has previously expressed disappointment at the fact that Parliament was only going to be sitting for three weeks before the bill was going to be given a second reading.

The public submission period was shortened by the Minister’s request, and oral submitters had to present via teleconference during the height of lockdown, naturally already a stressful time for everyone. “We’ve been calling for legislation for years, and to think it could now be rushed through under Urgency is completely unacceptable. Sadly, the only winners will be the shareholders of multinational corporations,” said Loucas at the time.

“Given time is now short, Parliament should do the right thing and debate the bill after the election. Then MPs will have a fresh mandate and be more focused to deal with the many complex issues the proposed regulation brings.”

Vape bill rushed in time for elections

Kiwi smokers and vapers have been let down by a disengaged Health Select Committee, which sided with opponents’ emotion, rather than basing the bill on scientific evidence.

However, none of the above was considered and the bill was passed unamended. “This key piece of legislation was passed under Urgency after the public submission period was shortened and oral submitters presented via teleconference. Then just before the bill was passed to a near-empty Parliament, Minister Jenny Salesa had to push through her own last-minute amendments, again proving the shortcomings of the bill and the process,” said Loucas.

She had already pointed out that New Zealand smokers and vapers have been down by a disengaged Health Select Committee, which sided with opponents’ emotion, rather than basing the bill on scientific evidence. “As it stands, general and online-only vape retailers will be permitted to sell just three vape flavours – mint, menthol, and tobacco. Adults, however, love flavours. That’s how they successfully switch from cigarettes. By limiting flavours, you’re just limiting the opportunities smokers have to quit tobacco.” Sadly, this seems even more the case now.

Vapers ignored

The AVCA’s petition to Parliament had requested “that the House of Representatives debate the Government’s proposal to limit flavoured nicotine e-liquids to mint, menthol and tobacco.” Shockingly, the petition was not even looked at until five days after the bill had already been passed.

“The fact that Parliament finally passed the bill on 5 August and my petition got presented on 10 August after Parliament had risen really sums up this whole process. At least we tried to save more smokers’ lives. Sadly, the same can’t be said for our elected representatives,” says Nancy Loucas.

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