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Pushing through vaping legislation during lockdown is undemocratic, critic says

The Government is being criticised for still allowing new laws to pass during the coronavirus lockdown.

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Eric Crampton of policy think tank the New Zealand Initiative says it is undemocratic. Source: Breakfast

Public submissions for the Vaping Bill closed yesterday, one of 14 new pieces of legislation that are still going through Parliament even as MPs stay home.

The Vaping Bill aims to regulate vaping and vaping products. Among the changes, it would ban advertising of vaping products and smokeless tobacco and restrict the sale of flavoured vaping products and e-cigarettes to R-18 specialty stores.

Eric Crampton of pro-free-market think tank the New Zealand Initiative thinks it is undemocratic of the New Zealand Government.

Of a number of pieces of legislation being pushed through remotely, Mr Crampton told TVNZ1’s Breakfast the vaping legislation is "particularly annoying".

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“So many vapers will be coming from communities of smokers and ex-smokers and those are primarily disadvantaged communities," he said. "They’re going to be less likely to have home offices like I’ve got to be writing submissions.

“It’s their voices that really matter in this so that Parliament can hear what it’s going to do to them ... when they’re not able to access the things that they rely on to avoid smoking.”

Mr Crampton said it "seems nonsense" that the health select committee is spending its time worrying about the vaping framework during the pandemic. 

“I think that people affected by this legislation should have the chance to say something about it and they’re hindered from doing that because of the lockdown."

He said it isn’t an “urgent” law, and not directly related to the pandemic.

“The Government should have pushed back the reporting date from the select committee to allow the select committee more time with it and the select committee should have then put back the date for submissions allowing people to be heard.”