Anti-smoking campaigners are calling for the Government to stop plans to ban oral nicotine products in the Vaping Amendment Bill.
The addition to the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Bill states oral nicotine products cannot be sold or distributed, unless the products has been approved by the Health Minister.
Anti-smoking campaigners are calling for the restriction to be removed from the legislation.
“They're so much less harmful than smoked cigarettes and they're an avenue for people to quit smoking,” Action for Smokefree 2025 director Deborah Hart said.
Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa, who is overseeing the Bill, said oral nicotine products aren’t in line with the legislation’s purpose to balance supporting smokers to switch to alternatives like vaping and heated tobacco products which have lower health risks with regulations about safety and limiting young people’s access to these products.
“We know from advice from overseas that there are issues with some of these oral nicotine products,” Ms Salesa said.
Organisations supporting people to stop smoking are calling for other changes to the Bill too, with concerns support groups like Vape2Save will be hamstrung due to the proposed regulation for only "suitably qualified health workers" to give any advice or message to people "for the purpose of supporting the individual then to switch from smoking to vaping".
“Those that are vaping in our community are experts, they know how to help others switch over from combustible tobacco because they’ve done it themselves,” Vape2Save founder Rebecca Ruwhiu-Collins said.
Ms Salesa said she has sought further advice on the matter.
Campaigners are also hoping the restriction of vaping liquid flavours to only menthol, tobacco and menthol being sold at stores outside vape shops will be extended to include a couple of fruity flavours.
“That's not going to help us give up because you've still got that taste of tobacco or menthol in it… I have vanilla right now,” said Connie Stevens, a woman who switched from smoking to vaping.
Ms Ruwhiu-Collins said rural communities are being penalised because they don’t have access to vape shops, and even with the option of online shopping if users do have internet access, that creates a lag in accessing products.
“It’s limiting our community… I think they are causing more damage than good here and they are creating a barrier of access to essentially liquids and flavours that are going to help people,” she said.
Ms Salesa said she’s hoping the Bill will be passed through Parliament in the next three weeks.