Kate Hawkesby: Going berserk over vaping legislation a rare misstep for Act


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The government’s finally acted on vaping. It took them 15 months, but yesterday came the announcement of new legislation to crackdown on it.
It's legislation which Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa calls, the "most significant change to New Zealand's smoke free laws since they were introduced 30 years ago".
The bill goes before parliament this week and includes a total ban on advertising and marketing, banning the use in smoke free areas, restrictions on who can sell them, banning under 18's from purchasing, and limiting dairies and gas stations to selling only three flavours.
I’m not sure why all that took so long. It seems sensible; it seems within the realms of what they can realistically do without too much ardent opposition.
But they may’ve under estimated Act. Act has gone berserk over it. It's slammed the bill as “the most damaging public health policy in a generation".
Why does Act hate it so much? Because it says it’s a backward step. Leader David Seymour was quoted as saying, “the ban on vaping flavours and advertising will kill off the best tool for quitting smoking and will condemn more people to cigarettes for longer.”
So does he have a point? Well, I don’t think so.
Those who are mature enough to have smoked for years and want to quit and take up vaping can do so. I’m sure they’re not the ones worried about the fact that the tutti fruti flavour won’t be on sale at the Dairy anymore.
I’m sure they’re happy to buy from licenced registered sellers. I’m sure they can choose their own vape products without having them marketed in their face every day.
The concern when it comes to vaping is not those who’re quitting smoking, but those who’re picking up nicotine addictions by taking it up having never smoked before. Kids as young as eight. In the world of teens and pre-teens, vaping is huge.
And here’s the irony: smoking isn’t. They’re a generation warned off cigarettes, yet they seem to think vaping is cool.
It’s blatantly targeted at children – look at the flavours, look at the way it’s advertised. It’s the kids who’re most at risk because they’re the ones being told it’s cool. School principals have been jumping up and down about this for ages, and in fact Salesa said this legislation is partly aimed at reducing the appeal of vaping to them, to safeguard kids.
Yet Act’s David Seymour poo pooed this and said there’s no real evidence more young people are taking it up, it’s just anecdotal.
Well it is at the moment. Give it a few years and there’ll be real proof, mark my words. The fact the evidence is anecdotal at the moment doesn’t mean it’s not a real concern and a real issue.
Act has done a lot of smart things this year. Objecting to this legislation I don’t think is one of them.

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