In the last decade, the landscape of nicotine consumption has undergone a significant transformation. The days of traditional cigarettes are slowly waning, with vape products becoming a popular replacement. As a result, a sweet-smelling plume has replaced the once ubiquitous smoky haze in cities like Auckland, now fondly referred to as 'The Big Smoke'.
Vaping products have stepped up to replace traditional cigarettes, meeting soaring demand with a myriad of appealing options. Picture this: You stroll down Auckland's nightlife hotspot, Ponsonby Road, and you find no less than five vape stores in just a 1.7km stretch.
At the Three Lamps end of Ponsonby Road, Vape Room owner Nephi Hatcher highlights the enticing world of vaping. Here, we find vapes that cater to a particular audience, their flavours named after popular icons like 'Heisenberg Slush' for Breaking Bad fans, and 'Sour Batch' referencing the beloved Sour Patch Kids lollies.
However, this world of vivid flavours and compelling names may soon change. The government is implementing new regulations, planning to strip these products of their colourful names, replacing them with plain ones like 'berry'. As per the new rules, come November, customers won't be able to buy disposable vapes; only devices with removable or replaceable batteries would be allowed.
These changes, while well-intentioned, raise valid concerns about a potential black market. Suppliers have already started slashing prices, expecting customers to stock up on disposable vapes before they are taken off the shelves. Hatcher warns of an imminent black market eruption, "Once they're not allowed to be sold in shops, kids will get easier and better access."
Chirag Kharbanda, another vape store owner, is already worried about the future of his recently opened business. With a large stock of disposable vapes, he is considering shifting to another business line if his current venture takes a hit. Nevertheless, he acknowledges the government's intention to dissuade young people from vaping.
Small retailers and dairies, limited to selling tobacco, menthol, or mint-flavoured vapes, will also feel the impact of the new regulations. For Manggi Singh, owner of Walia Superette, the impending regulations might not drastically affect his business, but he still has concerns over the potential problems caused by the black market.
The new vape regulations are the first phase of the government's plan to change vape habits. The second phase will introduce interactive tools for young people, encouraging them to seek alternatives to vaping. However, the transition period is rife with uncertainty and questions, leading us to wonder if these regulations will help reduce vaping or fuel a surge in black market activity.
The government's plan to regulate vaping products is a well-intended initiative to curb vaping, especially among young people. However, the unintended consequences such as a potential black market need to be addressed adequately. Only time will tell whether these changes will lead to a healthier future or to new sets of problems.
What is the aim of the new vape regulations?
The government's regulations aim to curb the use of vaping products, particularly among young people.
Why are retailers worried about the new regulations?
Retailers are concerned about a potential surge in the black market, making disposable vapes more accessible to young people once they are banned in stores.
What is the government's plan for after the new regulations take effect?
The second phase of the plan will introduce interactive tools to encourage young people to seek alternatives to vaping.
What is the impact on small retailers and dairies?
Small retailers and dairies, which were already limited to selling tobacco, menthol, or mint-flavoured vapes, will also not be able to sell disposables when the new regulations come into effect.
What is the reaction from the vaping community?
Reactions are mixed. While some understand and support the government's intention to dissuade young people from vaping, others are concerned about the potential rise of a black market.