A collection of the biggest names in the vaping industry have set aside their competitive differences to fight a bigger foe: Government regulation.

In a bid to offer a collective voice against proposed regulatory changes, a collection of vaping businesses recently banded together to form the Vaping Trade Association of New Zealand (VTANZ).

The Herald understands that major Kiwi vape brands including Shosha, Alt, Vapourium, The Vape Shop and Vapo, among others have agreed to work together to ensure that excessively prohibitive legislation isn't passed in the local market.

It's notable that members of VTANZ are precluded from having any ties to Big Tobacco.


VTANZ spokesman Ben Pryor says that negative media out of the US has had a negative impact on local perceptions regarding the vaping industry.

Pryor was adamant that the aim of VTANZ was not to oppose all regulation.

"The Ministry of Health has indicated the proposed regulations will prohibit harmful ingredients, set quality standards for ingredients, as well as set standards for refill containers and devices. This is long overdue," he said.

So far, the Government has taken quite a progressive approach with vaping, promoting it as a means by which to quit cigarettes. But there have been signs of this changing, with Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa suggesting in early September that new laws could bring vaping under regulatory controls as strict as those seen in tobacco.

What the industry body is concerned about is that negative media sentiment is starting to influence the type of legislation that's passed.

"The noises now coming out of the Beehive are increasingly alarming," Pryor said.

"Suddenly it's all about prohibiting all marketing, banning the most successful flavours for adults, and dramatically capping nicotine levels."

Recent media stories out of the US have pointed to a number of deaths related to lung infections associated with vaping - leading to a crackdown on e-cigarettes in the country.


In response, the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending people consider not using e-cigarettes at all.

Despite the US concerns, physicians in the UK have continued to tell doctors to promote e-cigarettes "as widely as possible" to people trying to quit smoking.

Public Health England has stood by its position that vaping carries a small fraction of the risk of smoking.

Dr John Britton, director of the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies at the University of Nottingham, called the US approach complete madness.

"The reality with smoking is, if you tell people to stop vaping, they will go back to tobacco and tobacco kills," Britton said.

Locally, Robert Beaglehole, the chairman of Action for Smokefree 2025, has expressed a view more closely aligned with the UK, this week calling a vaping ban in the Matamata-Piako District detrimental to smokers looking to quit.


"Vaping is much less harmful than smoking cigarettes and we need to do everything possible to encourage people to make that switch," Beaglehole said.

Pryor hopes that legislative changes in this market will follow the UK down an evidence-based route rather than creating circumstances that could lead people back to cigarettes.

"We're no longer going to take this lying down," Pryor said.

"As a positive industry, we're now drawing a line under what is a big beat-up. We're coming together to fight any regulation that will boost Big Tobacco's presence and see more Kiwis continue to smoke."