Health organisations in New Zealand and Australia want the New Zealand Government (Te Kāwanatanga o Aotearoa) to follow in the footsteps of Australia by banning disposable vapes. While the popular vaping devices are not yet prohibited in Australia, the country’s health minister, Mark Butler, announced a proposal in May that includes a ban on all single-use vapes, which are commonly known as disposables.

According to Letitia Harding, chief executive of the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ, disposables “are the ones that are very attractive to youth” and there is “no reason” for them to be available.

The New Zealand Government has taken a vastly different approach to regulating vaping products than Australia. While Australia has moved towards prohibition, making nicotine vaping products accessible only with a prescription from a licensed doctor, New Zealand’s approach has been similar to the United Kingdom’s.

In the United Kingdom, vapes are as accessible as cigarettes, sharing the same age requirement for purchase. They’re available at local stores and online vendors. The UK Government encourages smokers to switch to e-cigarettes, and no prescription is required for their purchase.

The New Zealand Ministry of Health, much like its counterpart in the UK, encourages smokers to switch to vaping. The health ministry’s Vaping Facts website states that vaping can help smokers quit smoking and that it is less harmful than smoking. It also makes clear that vaping is not harmless and that non-smokers should not start vaping.

Harding told Morning Report that e-cigarettes may benefit cigarette smokers and that the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation NZ is not pushing for a total ban on vaping products in the country. She also said that New Zealand should examine Australia’s prescription-only model for vaping products.

Australia’s prescription-only model for e-cigarettes has reportedly led to a surge in black market vape sales in the country. The surge has been attributed to rising demand and a failure to police the rules. Commissioner Michael Outram, the head of the Australian Border Force, weighed in on Health Minister Mark Butler’s proposal to ban recreational vaping, stating that banning retail vape sales won’t stop vapes from flooding into the country.

New South Wales Premier Chris Minns has said that the recent proposal to ban recreational vaping will be difficult to enforce. Scott Weber, chief executive of the Police Federation of Australia, questioned how the ban would be enforced as he asked, “Is a police officer going to see someone walking down the street and confiscate their vape?”

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Weber noted that law enforcement is already finding it difficult to police illicit tobacco sales despite the fact that there is a federal task force dedicated to the task.

Professor Anne Holland, president of the Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand, said that disposable vapes “are rarely used for smoking cessation efforts”. Despite Holland’s claim, a study led by Professor Richard Edwards of the University of Otago Medical School found that smokers in New Zealand are using vapes to quit smoking more than ever before and that the research suggests that “e-cigarettes are contributing to reducing smoking prevalence and to achieving the goal of Aotearoa becoming smoke-free by 2025”.

Australia’s latest plan to crack down on vaping products in the country will require all vape sales to go through pharmacies. While at least some of the details of the proposal remain unclear or unaddressed, the new rules will place new restrictions on nicotine strength, flavours, packaging, colours, and ingredients.

While New Zealand banned tobacco sales for anyone born after 1 January 2009, Australia’s current health minister reportedly said that the Australian Government does not currently have a plan to follow in the footsteps of New Zealand in banning cigarettes for the next generation.

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