The passing of new vaping legislation overnight will see the country’s largest retailer of e-cigarettes launch a rapid expansion programme throughout New Zealand.
Nabhik Gupta, spokesperson for NZ owned Shosha, says confirmation of the passing of the new vaping law will allow the company to confirm a plan to open 15 stores nationwide within the next three months, creating another 50 jobs in the retail sector.
He says the expansion is a direct result of new industry regulation which will prevent the sale of vaping products to those aged under 18 and also restrict the availability of flavoured vape products.
“The unregulated vaping industry has led to young Kiwis, including those who have never smoked cigarettes provided with unrestricted access to vaping products through their local convenience store.
“The new legislation brings a level of certainty for speciality stores like ours and will allow us to make the regulated supply of vaping products more accessible through a nationwide expansion plan which will see more than a dozen new stores opened before the new legislation comes into effect.
“This will be of particular benefit for those living in centres such as Queenstown which despite the size of its population has no speciality vaping retailer.
“By providing more convenient access for New Zealand smokers to alternatives to combustible cigarettes we aim to help thousands more Kiwis transition away from the harmful effects of smoking”, he says.
Gupta says work is also underway to support customers impacted by the ban on smokeless tobacco which will be prohibited from sale in the coming months.
He says sales of snus, which is used under the lip as a nicotine patch, are expected to spike as customers move to stockpile the product ahead of a ban on its sale.
“While we welcome the new legislation as an essential mechanism for preventing underage access to vaping products, we are also keen to avoid a scenario where the new regulations work to derail the smoking cessation efforts of thousands of Kiwis - including our military personnel.
“Plans to contact those affected and help them find new alternative products to smokeless tobacco as they transition off combustible cigarettes are now being implemented,” he says.
Gupta says snus was first developed in Sweden and is considered the primary reason why the rate of smoking stands at just 8% for males in that country (compared to 14% for New Zealand males).
“Snus provides a more immediate and concentrated dosage of nicotine and is popular with heavy smokers in the early stages of stopping smoking.
“The product is also suitable for a number of occupations where vaping breaks are not possible such as the military who have been advised to use snus while on duty or even those who need to travel on planes,” he says.
The Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Vaping Amendment Bill will come into effect in three months' time, in November.