Minister’s intentions would kill off Smoke Free 2025
Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa seems intent on ensuring the Government’s vaping legislation will heavily target
flavours and nicotine levels – a move that would be completely counterproductive to helping Kiwis quit smoking and
achieving New Zealand’s Smoke Free 2025 ambition.
The comments come from leading vaping entrepreneur Ben Pryor, co-owner of Alt New Zealand – the largest Kiwi-owned
Mr Pryor says to date the Minister and Government have been very supportive of the major role vaping is playing in
getting New Zealanders off tobacco.
Last month Ms Salesa launched the Ministry of Health and Health Promotion Agency’s ‘vaping-to-quit-smoking’ website. At
that time, she said ‘many people miss the nicotine when they quit smoking. Vaping can replace this nicotine but without
the toxins found in cigarette smoke.’
However, Mr Pryor says the industry is increasingly agitated that the Minister is seemingly now being advised to
legislate against flavours and to dramatically lower the nicotine levels allowed in the e-liquid used by vapers. Advice,
he says, is seriously misguided.
Ms Salesa is expected to table the much-anticipated Smokefree Environments (Vaping) Amendment Bill in Parliament in
about three months’ time.
“If the Government drops the nicotine levels by regulation to say one-fifth of that found in a conventional cigarette,
then that will decimate the local vaping industry with only Big Tobacco coming out on top!
“It would mean less smokers make a successful transition to vaping, so we’d see Kiwis quitting tobacco at a much slower
rate. In fact, it’s highly likely the outcome of all this could deliver the complete opposite of what the Government
If nicotine levels are regulated down, Mr Pryor believes it could also mean existing vapers head to hybrid products that
heat tobacco rather than burn it, increasing their health risk.
“The process of heating tobacco is claimed to be less harmful than smoking cigarettes. However, research confirms that
vaping is at least 95% safer, and is of course a lot cheaper because it avoids tobacco taxes.”
Mr Pryor says the local vaping industry’s concern about the Minister’s increasing focus on nicotine levels and flavours
was confirmed in a recent interview.
“The Minister seemed to suggest that legislating against flavours and reducing nicotine levels could somehow help curb
Big Tobacco’s questionable antics in the community. However, in reality such a move would only help Big Tobacco to sell
more tobacco-based products as their vaping competitors would be seriously weakened.”
As for the issue of flavours attracting young people to vaping, Mr Pryor says Ms Salesa herself often cites significant
research she released in April which showed vaping among young New Zealand secondary school students was very low and in
“As she works with officials to draft up her vaping legislation, the local industry respectively asks the Minister to
keep in mind why adult New Zealanders are successfully able to quit smoking. We strongly argue that it’s because vaping
is the most effective smoking cessation tool on the market, thanks to it coming in flavours and containing sound yet
safe nicotine levels.
“By wrongly targeting flavours and nicotine, the Minister runs the real risk of throwing the baby out with the bathwater
and killing off country’s Smoke Free ambition once and for all,” says Mr Pryor.