Home /  News /  New Zealand

Loopholes Will Be Exploited In New Vape Rules: Experts

Regulatory changes have seen immediate workarounds from vape manufacturers, says the associate health minister. File photo. Photo: 123RF

There is no doubt vape manufacturers will find and exploit loopholes in new regulations, marketing experts say.

Disposable vapes will be banned by the end of this year as part of the coalition's 'crack down' on youth vaping.

Academics RNZ have spoken to say the action is taking too long and will be ineffective, given market workarounds.

Otago University professor of public health Janet Hoek said reusable vaping products were already being sold at similar prices to disposable vaping products.

"That to me is exploiting a loophole that is inconsistent with the spirit of the regulation, which was to make these products less available, less affordable and less appealing to young people."


Health Select Committee chair and National MP Sam Uffindell last month expressed concern the industry would simply work around tighter regulations.

"What we don't want to see is at the start of October when the regulations come into force, is that the tobacco companies have out-thought the regulations and got a device that gets around them on a technicality and has a similarly low price point and defeats the intention and the purpose of what Cabinet approved a couple of weeks ago.

"We have to see disposables, or any little variations of them, out."

Associate Health Minister Casey Costello acknowledged the industry was evolving as regulations were.

"The issue you mention around the changing price point for reusable vapes and the way new products keep emerging are one of the reasons we need a comprehensive review of the regulations and enforcement regime around nicotine and tobacco products," she said in a statement.

"Regulatory changes to date - such as those that came into force last December around child safety mechanisms and removable batteries - have seen immediate workarounds from vape manufacturers."

But Vaping Industry Association of New Zealand chair Jonathan Devery said it was incorrect to suggest the industry "worked around" regulations.

"The last round of regulations were the result of knee-jerk, half-baked decision-making from the previous government with no meaningful consultation with industry.

"The result was a selection of seemingly irrelevant regulatory requirements that are not only ineffective at achieving any real purpose, they are also proving too complicated to be enforced effectively."

He said the government must work with the industry to create meticulously-drafted legislation and regulation that reduced youth vaping and safeguards smokers' access to products.

Costello said she had paused work on changing vape regulations in March so the government could get them right.

"We are clear that we don't want low-cost, single use products available as they are the most appealing to youth and we need to make sure that any new regulations we put in place don't allow new products to take their place.

"The regulations also need to be enforceable and coherent across all related products - from cigarettes through to oral products."

AUT associate professor of marketing Sommer Kapitan said vape manufacturers and retailers will continue to adapt to regulations; pointing to dairies who have set up specialist vape stores inside their businesses to get around flavour limits.

"So a dairy would split a third of itself out and create a vape shop where they sold speciality flavours with the other two thirds being a regular dairy. They're following the law and the rules but there was a clear loophole."

Both Hoek and Kapitan saw merit in reducing the number of vape retailers, though the Minister did not agree.

"I have great concerns with picking an arbitrary number and saying this is how many we're going to have because anybody who deals with addiction knows that reducing supply does not reduce demand.

"We have to attack demand and that's what I'm focused on," Costello said.

Related Posts