New Zealand's first dedicated vaping shop continues to grow its business, with more than 1000 local customers, says owner Michael Brader.

The Napier outlet sells e-cigarettes, which are handheld electronic devices that release flavoured vapours from a liquid using a heating coil.

They vary in size from cigarette-sized devices for people trying to quit smoking to larger ones for people wanting plenty of flavour "and big clouds", Mr Brader said. "They are for people who have gone beyond smoking and made vaping into a hobby."

It was illegal for him to sell a nicotine solution but it was legal for people to import it for their personal use, which many people did to help wean themselves off smoking through vaping, he said.


Flavours were diverse.

"When people quit smoking their taste buds come back. When their taste buds come back they have a greater range of taste in general and usually stop liking tobacco flavour. At that point we have bakery flavours, fruit flavours, things like that."

The number of new customers was increasing "but it is obviously being held back by the Government not letting us sell nicotine".

The Clive Square East shop opened in September 2014 and has an online offering.

"I used vaping to quit smoking myself and it changed my life for the better. I want other people to have that benefit.

"As well as selling the stuff we are quite knowledgeable and give people advice."

Without the highly-addictive nicotine that was found in tobacco he said it was easy to inhale vapours.

"Nicotine is reasonably harsh on the back of the throat and so forth, that can make people gag a bit."


Hawke's Bay District Health Board's smokefree programme manager Penny Thompson said there was not yet enough research to determine the effectiveness and long-term effects of e-cigarettes but a University of Otago study will soon collect real-time data from e-cigarettes users over two months.

"It is important for people to know that in New Zealand nicotine is considered a medicine and is regulated as such," she said. "If people are purchasing liquid nicotine online they need to know that liquid nicotine, in high doses, can be lethal if consumed.

"We know that a combination of cessation aid and behavioural support gives people the best chance at quitting. It's up to an individual to decide what cessation aid to choose when they decide they want to quit and we and other cessation services can provide advice and information around each of those."

Quitline said more than 50,000 people try to quit smoking each year in New Zealand and about 10,000 are successful.