Millions of vaping products imported into New Zealand will be required to display warning labels in te reo Māori if new Government proposals are implemented.
Under the new proposals, e-cigarettes containing nicotine would be required to carry a warning label advising of the potential for addiction to the product in both English and te reo Māori - similar to that found on cigarettes containing tobacco.
According to latest Census data, 13 per cent of Kiwis are regular smokers, however, this figure is significantly higher for Māori at 31 per cent.
A recent study of 1000 New Zealanders by e-cigarette retailer Shosha found Māori were significantly more likely than the national average to use vaping products, either as part of a smoking cessation programme or for some other reason.
Shosha spokesman Nabhik Gupta said regardless of the outcome of the new proposal, his company had already begun the planning process to redesign the packaging on thousands of products to include a warning in te reo "He nikotini kei roto i tenei mea, he matu tino whakawara" (this product contains nicotine which is a highly addictive substance).
"Unlike tobacco products where the packaging is relatively standardised, the box size of e-cigarettes varies substantially between manufacturers.
"While the redesign and printing of thousands of individual product lines is a significant undertaking and a process which will take months to fully implement, we believe it is an important proactive step for us to take to improve industry standards and help support smokers wanting to transition away from cigarettes," he said.
Gupta said the introduction of new product safety requirements outlined in the Ministry of Health proposals would also see New Zealand standards become among the world's strictest.
"The European and UK-based standards which the ministry is proposing are some of the most stringent available.
"If adopted here it will mean consumers can be reassured that only what is on the label what is displayed on the label is present in the product - down to the last molecule."
Other proposals under review include options for the definition of an internal area, the display of vaping products in retail stores and websites, the use of harm reduction statements in retail stores and websites, the display of R18 notices at vaping points of sale, packaging requirements for vaping products, and the responsibilities of manufacturers and importers who intend to sell vaping products or smokeless tobacco products including product safety requirements.
Private companies who import e-cigarettes would also be required to make their annual reports publicly available - a move Gupta said would provide competitors with commercially sensitive information.
The Government consultation closes on March 15, 2021.
- SUPPLIED CONTENT