Response to Government Statement on Vape Shops’ Proximity to Schools
While the Government holds a national database of 1300 Specialist Vape Retailers (SVRs), they recently admitted they “don’t know how many vape shops are already operating within 300m of schools”, despite launching a new policy on it.
They also did not determine which of these already fall within the 300m boundary prior to their recent announcement that promised to keep new vape retailers more than 300m away from schools and marae.
Anna Stewart, a spokesperson for Vape-Free Kids New Zealand (VFK NZ), a grassroots group seeking more action to prevent harm to rangatahi from vaping, says, “We find it incredible that there was no regulatory impact assessment for a measure intended to put distance between vape retailers, schools and marae. The fact that there was no review of the existing vape stores already licensed within this area makes no sense.”
“Not only do they not know how many vape retailers were already within 300m of schools and kura, but they failed to consider dairies (GVRs), which means that children already able to access these products near schools will continue to be able to do so after the changes. A vape store is a vape store, regardless of the flavours on offer.”
Recently released Ministry of Education data shows school stand downs related to underaged vaping have increased by over 300% across the country. “It's another alarming example of just how out of touch the Government has become on this issue. It clearly shows that, to them, the wellbeing of our tamariki matters less than the target of a Smokefree 2025,” says Stewart.
Vape-Free Kids NZ was created 6 weeks ago and already has more than 1400 members.
The group has launched two petitions calling for action on the issue at petitions.parliament.nz/2a168fb2-ec46-478c-52f5-08db2efc521d (3000 signatures to date) and www.change.org/vapefreekidsnz (6,000 signatures to date).