Ministry admits incorrectly threatening vape retailers

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The Ministry of Health has admitted it incorrectly threatened vape retailers for selling non-compliant products.

In October 2022, in response to an inquiry fromĀ Fair Go, the ministry took the position that the smokefree regulations prescribed a maximum nicotine salt strength of 50mg/mL (28.5mg/mL nicotine strength) and threatened to cancel all products that did not comply.

However, the regulations actually set the maximum nicotine strength limit of 50mg/mL.

Specialist Vape Retailer VAPO | alt. said its repeated requests to meet with the ministry were refused.

So in March it took the ministry to court, on the basis that the ministry's interpretation of the regulations was incorrect and unlawful.

VAPO director Ben Pryor was concerned the misinterpretation would adversely impact the health of people who relied on 50mg/mL nicotine products to abstain from smoking.

In August, the ministry confirmed that VAPO's interpretation of the regulations was correct, conceded the proceeding, and the Court made a declaration in favour of VAPO.

The government has since amended the regulations to lower the maximum nicotine strength to 28.5 mg/mL from 21 March 2024.

Whether the ministry is able to lawfully reduce the limit is currently before the Court.

The Ministry of Health has been approached for comment.