LGNZ calls for a dramatic reduction in vape stores

28 July 2022

The majority of councils around the country want vaping products to only be sold at specialist R18 retailers to curb the rise in youth vaping.

Local Government New Zealand’s (LGNZ) member councils have today passed a remit, proposed by Kaipara District Council, that calls on the Government to limit the retail availability of vapes to specialist stores and include proximity restrictions in this year’s round of amendments.

It’s one of six remits that passed at the AGM today to direct LGNZ’s policy and advocacy.

“New Zealand was late to the party passing laws regulating the sale of vape products and that’s left our communities playing catch up,” says LGNZ President Stuart Crosby.

“Between 2018 and 2021, daily vaping rose from 2% to nearly 10% amongst 14–15-year-olds. We can’t afford this trend to continue.

“While we support the supply of vapes to people wanting to stop smoking, we don’t want to see young people who have never smoked in their life taking it up. That means we must stop vapes from being so readily available in our dairies, supermarkets and service stations.

“We need to get the balance right because even though vaping is less harmful than smoking, we don’t know what the long-term effects are.

“Councils play a major role in promoting the wellbeing of their communities.  Concerns around youth vaping is one issue Mayors and councillors hear about time and time again from worried parents.

“We welcome the recent changes that include restrictions around the sale of vapes and advertising and sponsorship but vapes are still available in too many places in our communities. The amendments that came into effect over the past two years do not include measures that prevent retailers from being within a stone's throw of each other, or from schools for that matter,” Stuart Crosby said.

“Without these measures in place, we could end up with more situations like the one in Dargaville, whose main street has 13 places where people can buy vapes. This includes 3 specialist vape stores within 150 metres of each other,” Kaipara Mayor Dr Jason Smith said.

“As the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Smoked Tobacco) Amendment Bill is before select committee, now’s the time to take the opportunity to future proof the health of the next generation,” Jason Smith said.

“Other remits that passed today include a proposal for an independent review into the way in which government, through Waka Kotahi, funds transport investments, including maintenance programmes and new developments. There was also strong support for a remit that calls on central government to fully and permanently fund public transport for students, community card holders, under 25 year-olds and total mobility card holders and their support people, and extend the reach and frequency of the current public transport network,” Stuart Crosby said.

“Remits are an important mechanism to push for changes. Just yesterday we saw an LGNZ remit from 2014 that wanted the Government to make decisions around fluoridating drinking water and take responsibility for it come into effect. It goes to show that while it can take time for change to happen, remits are still a really powerful tool,” Stuart Crosby said.