FEATURE NEW ZEALAND ENTERS POTENTIAL BOOM PERIOD THE NZ GOVERNMENT CALLS FOR MORE ACCESS, AND BUSINESSES ARE STEPPING UP TO PROVIDE FOR A GROWING NUMBER OF NEW VAPERS We’re only a couple of months in, but 2019 is already proving to the beginning of a potential boom period for New Zealand’s e-cigarette industry. The government of New Zealand has been steadfast in its commitment to going smoke-free by 2025. A closer embrace of the domestic vaping industry may be on the table, as with only a few years left, the pressure is mounting. The country’s smoking rate is falling, now standing at just under 14 percent. Though this marks the continuation of a consistent fall, it does not reflect the full potential a fully-optimised anti-smoking movement could achieve with vaping pushed as a cessation option, and some politicians in the opposition are voicing their concerns. Nicky Wagner, MP, (pictured) has confronted the government over its reluctance to make full use of e-cigarettes as a method to reach their ambitious goal. “The Ministry of Health has highlighted the potential for vaping to be used as a smoking cessation tool to help achieve Smokefree 2025, and yet the government will not move to make e-cigarettes and vaping devices more accessible,” she said. Wagner praised the yearly tax excise increases on tobacco but insists they won’t break through to the most addicted smokers who need nicotine replacement rather than deterrence. "These year-on-year increases have achieved their purpose in reducing smoking rates and now we must help our most ingrained smokers who are not put off by price by providing an alternative 96 | VM21 like vaping." Wagner has put forward the Smoke-free Environments (Regulation of E-Cigarettes) Amendment Bill, which she insists will save the government time by both boosting and regulating the country’s vaping industry, providing grounds for compromise between the trade and those who have their concerns about its unresolved issues. "These regulations would prohibit sales to under 18s, allow the ability to encourage vaping on tobacco products, ensure there are appropriate rules around advertising, set quality standards, require the Ministry of Health to approve products and prohibit vaping in smoke-free areas." The comparatively high smoking rate of New Zealand’s Maori community has been a focal point of the government’s smoke-free mission, with Maori women aged 18 to 24 smoking at a worryingly high rate of 38 percent. Wagner insists that the early days of a new year mark a time of self-improvement for citizens, especially smokers, and the government must act quickly to use this momentum. Vape companies are doing their part to strike while the iron is hot. On January 1, New Zealand saw the launch of its first ever vaping price comparison site – VapePrices.co.nz. The Auckland-based site describes itself as “PriceSpy for vapers” and promises to “help Kiwis compare the prices of different mods, kits, and liquids from all of the major retailers across New Zealand.” A press release from VapePrices claims the site is seeing 800 to 1,000 unique visitors per day.