Submission: Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Bill

Dr Eric Crampton
1 April, 2020

Read our submission, written by Eric Crampton, to the Associate Minister of Health and the Health Select Committee on the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Bill.

The Initiative has, over the past several years, undertaken research into tobacco harm reduction policies. That research includes Smoke and Vapour: The changing world of tobacco harm reduction (2018) and The Health of the State (2016). We have maintained a watching brief in this policy area and regularly provide public commentary on policy developments.

In summary:

  • We support the premise and purpose of the Bill. There needs to be a regulatory framework for vaping that is fit for purpose, that recognises the harm reduction when smokers switch to reduced-harm alternatives, and that enables as many people as possible to make that switch. We have two broad concerns with the legislation, one substantive and one procedural. In response to those concerns, we suggest improvements to the legislation to enable more people to switch from smoking to vaping. We also recommend that a second round of submissions should be allowed after the Alert Level 4 lockdown has ended, as well as revised reporting dates on the Bill.

  • On the substantive matters, we support the Bill’s pre-notification regime for product ingredients. But we are seriously concerned that measures taken to restrict vaping in public places and in business premises, to restrict advertising of reduced harm alternatives to smoking, to restrict the promotion of reduced-harm alternatives to smoking and to limit the sales of some vaping products to specialist retailers will work to reduce the number of smokers who switch to vaping. The legislation weighs too heavily the risk of non-smokers taking up vaping relative to the benefits of smokers shifting to vaping. The evidence to date, from a period in which vaping has been largely unregulated, is not consistent with any substantial uptake of vaping from non-smokers. There is no ‘gateway’ path from vaping to smoking.

  • Procedurally, we urge that the House extend the deadline by which the Select Committee reports back to Parliament. This legislation is important, but it is not urgent. Members of the Health Select Committee have more pressing pandemic-related business over the coming month. Ministry officials charged with drafting revisions to the legislation and with examining submissions have more pressing pandemic-related business to attend to over the coming month. Equally important, setting a deadline for submissions that falls within the period of a Level 4 lockdown will substantially affect the ability of many vapers to engage with the submission process. Pushing out the reporting deadline will enable the Committee to extend the submission deadline.

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