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Government moving to close legal loophole allowing sale of vaping products to under 18s

Experts are concerned New Zealand's youth are being targeted by online advertising for vaping products, and say it could trigger a new epidemic of nicotine addiction.

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Marketing experts have warned that young people are being targeted online to buy vaping products. Source: 1 NEWS

It comes as the Government moves to close a legal loophole allowing the sale of such products to under 18s.

Mihi Blair, General Manager for National Tobacco Control Advocacy Service, told 1 NEWS that she's seen an increase in the number of advertisements.

"I have seen that they have been targeting younger generations through their social marketing - Instagram pages influencers are very high in the market," she said.

While most young people aren't regularly vaping, a recent survey of Year 10 students found a third had tried it at some point.

1 NEWS took a look at some of the websites selling those products, and just how easy it is to order one.

While most online stores ask users if they're over 18, not all do.

Just two days after ordering a vape pen from a New Zealand based website, it was delivered straight to our office.

At no point in the process were we asked if we were 18 years or older, or for proof of our identity.

Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa says that's a concern.

She's planning to introduce legislation over the next 2-3 months that will crack down on the selling and advertising of those products.

Unlike cigarettes and tobacco products, it's legal to market these products in New Zealand under the Smoke-free and Environments Act 1990.

1 NEWS showed just some of the current adverts to a marketing expert, who was shocked by them.

"At first I thought it was quite harmless but now I think it's quite insidious," said Mike Hutchings, Marketing and Advertising lecturer at AUT.

"One word I'd use to describe any vaping promotion, is 'disingenuous,'" he said.

The Associate Health Minister hopes the new laws banning sales to under 18-year-olds will be in effect from late this year, or early 2020.