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April 15, 2018 | by  | in Arts |
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Vape Legalisation Bill

E-cigarettes are proposed to be legalized under a new Bill currently in Parliament. The Smoke-free Environments (Regulation of Electronic Cigarettes) Amendment Bill is a Members Bill introduced by the Honorable Nicky Wagner. While much of the public is not aware that the sale of e-cigarettes and e-nicotine products are not currently legal, prosecutions are extremely rare.

The Bill would amend the Smoke-free Environments Act, and aims to introduce similar consumer protections around vaping as there are currently around tobacco products. Under the Bill, the sale of and supply of e-cigarettes to people under 18 would be illegal, advertising would be limited to in-store for e-cigarette retailers, and vaping would be prohibited in legislated smoke-free areas in the same way smoking is currently.

National List MP Nicky Wagner, the author of the Bill, encouraged e-cigarettes as a “better alternative to ordinary cigarettes for long-term, more ingrained smokers, and are significantly less harmful than smoking tobacco”. She told Salient that while smoking rates continue to decline, smokers need to be open to alternatives to cigarettes.

Wagner said that there was a public appetite to legalise these products. She noted that vaping “provides the physical sensations and rituals that smokers find hard to give up and is significantly cheaper,” and called e-cigarettes a “tool” that can help those most addicted to nicotine to quit smoking.

While the research around the effectiveness of e-cigarette products in aiding smoking cessation is still developing, Wagner said that there is no evidence that e-cigarettes provide a gateway for smokers to cigarettes or that non-smokers take up e-cigarettes. She added that “we still want to have a safeguard because nicotine is still an addictive substance”.

A former employee of The Vape Shop, an e-cigarette retailer in Wellington, told Salient that he advocated for clear and honest sales and information around the products. He expressed concern that many vape retailers are currently “operating in a legal grey area”, which undermines consumers and employees of such retailers.

The Bill would also outlaw vaping in public spaces such as parliament grounds to “help preserve cultural norms around the undesirability of smoking”. Wagner confirmed that “legislated smoke free areas are intended to have cleaner air and therefore should be free of any smoking or vaping”. Any vaping by Parliament employees or press gallery journalists would therefore be banned under the new Bill. The proposed Bill is currently at the the member’s bill stage and is awaiting first reading in Parliament.

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