Canterbury retailers fined for selling vape products to minors

 

Malini Yugendran
Auckland, November 1, 2022

Are we becoming a Vapid-addict society? There has been a three-fold increase of use among teenagers 15-17 (Unsplash Photo)

Seven Christchurch vape retailers have been fined after selling vape products to minors.

The fine, imposed yesterday (October 31, 2022) followed the Controlled Purchase Operations (CPO) carried out by Health New Zealand Canterbury (Te Whatu Ora Waitaha).

The Operations were carried out between August and October 2022 and involved 39 retailers.

Waitaha Canterbury Medical Officer of Health Dr Cheryl Brunton said that the seven stores did not check identification before selling vape products to a 16-year-old.

She said that non-compliance by some traders was frustrating.

“Selling vape products to a minor is illegal and unacceptable. The CPO are carried out regularly for tobacco and vape sales to protect our young people from the harmful impact of vaping and smoking,” she said in a statement.

According to Ms Brunton, prior to the CPO regime, Heath New Zealand Canterbury received several complaints, prompting the public health staff to increase their vigilance.

Vaping is a major temptation to potential smokers (Unsplash Photo)

“They visited all the retail shops to apprise the concerned owners and staff of the laws in force and their obligations under the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act. Health Canterbury will continue to work with the sector to prevent minors from being able to purchase vaping products,” she said.

Disturbing trend

A New Zealand Health Survey showed a three-fold increase in the number of teens aged 15-17, vaping and that vaping amongst youths aged 18-24 increased from 5% to 15% in 2021.

The ASH Year 10 National Review, which surveyed 20,000 to 30,000 students on smoking and vaping reported an increase in daily vaping rates across all ethnicities, including people of Māori, Asian, Pacific, and European origin.

The Survey recorded that 3% of individuals who had never smoked, vaped daily and that daily smokers reported a substantial rise in daily vaping: from 60% in 2019 to 80% in 2021.

The Vaping Process

Vape or electronic cigarette heats a liquid, a combination of chemicals, nicotine, and flavours, into an aerosol (vapour) that one inhales. Research documents that vaping can cause addiction and function as a gateway to future tobacco and marijuana use.

Vaping can introduce hazardous compounds into the body, causing serious lung damage, acute poisoning, negative mental impacts, and, in extreme circumstances, death. Although there are no records of deaths from vaping in New Zealand, the American Centre for Disease Control and Prevention states that vaping has caused 68 deaths and 2807 respiratory illnesses.

Malini Yugendran

Literature suggests that there are intrinsic motivations for many young people to vape. Vaping is viewed as an alternative to cigarettes. It is deemed fun, trendy, cool and sensational and is viewed as a stress management tool. Many also switch to vaping as an aid to quitting smoking whilst some use it to supplement cigarette smoking in public spaces.

The extrinsic motivations include the lure of marketing campaigns: sleek design, user-friendly features, multiple flavours, and the ability to use it where smoking is prohibited.

Marketing Lure

Under the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Act 2020, most advertisements for these items are prohibited in New Zealand, and it is illegal to sell vape and vape products to minors under the age of 18.

That does not mean one cannot circumvent this rule: e-cigarettes can be marketed as an alternative to tobacco and vape shops can advertise on billboards.

The restriction on advertisement applies more to legacy media such as radio, television, broadsheet, and magazines. And vape advertisements on social media are relatively unregulated. This coupled with celebrity and influencer endorsement, exposes, and attracts more young adults to these marketing lures. When young people are frequently exposed to images, words, and behaviours that normalise vaping, they come to believe that it is socially acceptable. This coupled with peer pressure makes young adults susceptible to picking up the habit.

Public policy change

One of the measures that public policymakers should implement, similar to tobacco control initiatives, is the prohibition of any type of marketing or promotion for nicotine-added vape-related items. The government should ban social media ads, and endorsements and embark on a public education campaign that is critical of vaping. Policymakers should also ban vaping in public places similar to the ban on cigarettes and impose a high tax on vape products.

Outreach

Do visit the Don’t Get Sucked In and How to Quit Vaping websites that guide you to avoid vaping. Alternatively, you could ring Alcohol and Drug Helpline at 0800787797 to speak to a trained counsellor. All calls are free and confidential.

Malini Yugendran is an Indian Newslink Reporter based in Auckland.

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