More than 500 Otāne township residents have signed a petition to close the community vape shop.
The petition was presented to CHB Mayor Alex Walker by Otāne resident Kerry Low who was concerned about vaping products being available in the town and the impacts to young people in the village.
The petition recognised the vape shop in Otāne was opened without community consultation, noting it poses a risk to community and danger to children of the community.
Mayor Walker said local councils did not have the power to regulate the sale of vaping products in the same way as alcohol sale and supply.
However, they do have a legislated duty to promote community wellbeing and are well placed to provide valuable local context and knowledge.
“We take our responsibility for community wellbeing and as advocates for our community extremely seriously,” Walker said.
“We acknowledge that our local retailers have the right to operate within the current regulatory framework. We also welcome this initiative by the Otāne community. It opens a conversation about how the current vaping regime needs to change to benefit everyone in our community.
“While recent changes to Ministry of Health vaping regulations are positive, we want to see these go further to protect our kids from a new and largely unknown health risk. We support the controlled supply of vapes to adults wanting to stop smoking, but we don’t want to see young people who have never smoked in their life taking vaping up.”
She added the petition demonstrated that the community was passionate about ensuring they had a say about if and where vapes can be sold within their community, and council would ensure its views were heard by the new Government.
Some of the options available to Council to consider include presenting the petition to local Ministers Wedd and Butterick, and also to the new Health Minister Shane Reti.
At the 2022 Local Government New Zealand General Meeting, council supported a remit alongside other councils, calling on the government to limit the retail availability of vapes to R18 specialist stores and restrict their location and proximity to schools.
In August 2023 the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Amendment Regulations 2023 were introduced as part of a wider programme of to tackle youth vaping rates and contribute to a Smokefree future for Aotearoa New Zealand.
These regulations required that vape shops were at least 300m from a registered school or Marae and were required to notify that they sold ‘notifiable products’. Further restrictions in 2024 sought to introduce further standards on vaping, including permitted flavours, and other means to put further restrictions on these.
The new Government as part of their Coalition agreement have sought to relax these provisions, including repealing amendments to the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990 and regulations before March 2024, removing requirements for denicotisation, removing the reduction in retail outlets and the generation ban, while also amending vaping product requirements and taxing smoked products only
And reform the regulation of vaping, smokeless tobacco and oral nicotine products while banning disposable vaping products and increasing penalties for illegal sales to those under 18.
A recent survey of 755 New Zealanders, aged 18 years and over, shows 67% want to retain Aotearoa’s Smokefree law – including denicotisation of cigarettes, a reduction in retailers and ending sales of cigarettes to the next generation.
The survey was commissioned by Health Coalition Aotearoa (HCA) and University of Otago tobacco research group ASPIRE. Of those surveyed, 44% said they “strongly support” keeping the smokefree laws”, with 23% saying “support”. Support was strongest for reducing the amount of nicotine allowed in cigarettes (denicotisation), with 77% in favor, with 68% in favour of reducing retailers.
HCA co-chair Professor Boyd Swinburn said: “Repealing this law is just not supported. There’s no mandate from the public. The public are not stupid, they know these laws are good for the country, the economy and will save lives.”
The survey results come as a petition to stop the repeal of the Smokefree law has gained over 45,000 signatures and rallies in Wellington and Auckland were held, including handing-over of the petition at Parliament.
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