Call for tighter vaping regulations

A Dunedin member of a group pushing Parliament for tighter vaping regulations is urging action.

Vape-Free Kids NZ member Bridget Forsyth said she wanted to prevent children and adults from becoming replacement customers for tobacco companies.

She was "really disillusioned" with how the issue had been treated.

This follows the oral submission of fellow group members to the Health Select Committee earlier in the week, and their meeting with Associate Minister of Health Casey Costello.

About eight years had passed since Ms Forsyth co-wrote a submission on the use of vapes as part of a her work for the Cancer Society.

"We were sort of coming from the point of view that we can see how this could potentially be useful, but it needs to be really strongly controlled.

"It hasn't been."

She said vape shops seemed to be concentrated in vulnerable areas, such as South Dunedin and near the University of Otago.

The marketing was clearly targeting children, she said, making her doubt any claims they were just there to help people quit smoking.

She did not want those who were still too young to have ever thought about smoking or vaping to start.

She said the government needed to take action to protect people, and also needed to improve enforcement.

"I'd like to see them ... actually do something strong about it.

"They're saying that they're going to ban disposables and stuff.

"Yay that that's finally happening, but it's not enough."

Vape-Free Kids NZ was behind petitions presented to Parliament last August signed by more than 12,000 people.

The petitions asked for the sale of vape products to be limited to vaping stores only, as well as for more regulation.

Young people were becoming seriously addicted and the health implications were not known, one petition said.

The group’s founders travelled to Wellington to continue their cause.

Spokeswoman Marnie Wilton said they were pleased to finally meet Ms Costello after months of trying, but they came away feeling frustrated.

"It was clear to us that she was not interested in reducing availability of vapes.

"It feels like her priority is to make vapes accessible rather than protecting our children from nicotine addiction."

Nothing would change unless vapes were less available in the community, she said.