Harsher penalties for selling vapes to minors
Costello also wants to crackdown on youth vaping, including introducing harsher penalties for selling to minors.
Currently, the fines for selling to a minor are $10,000 for a body corporate and $5000 for any other case. But no prosecutions of vape retailers have been taken for selling to minors so the fine levels have not been tested.
RNZ understands Costello is proposing a $30,000 fine for selling vapes to minors.
Costello told RNZ she wanted “much harsher penalties” but “hadn’t looked at specific penalties”.
When RNZ asked Costello whether she was looking at a $30,000 fine, she said: “No. I haven’t. And again that may be in some reports I received but I haven’t received any advice yet in terms of what those penalties should look like and what would be reasonable.”
But in the documents RNZ has seen, health officials indicate the idea for a $30,000 fine came from Costello. “The additional notes you provided us suggested including a fine of up to $30,000,” the Ministry of Health document, sent to Costello, says.
The government reform of smoking and vaping laws also includes scrapping Labour’s plan to create a smoke free generation by banning the sale of tobacco to anyone born on or after January 1, 2009.
“Prohibition hasn’t worked. Like, it doesn’t reduce demand,” Costello said. “We’re absolutely committed to the smoke free targets. We just disagreed with the approach that was being taken to achieve it.”
Costello wants to give smokers a greater range of safer alternatives to smoking and is considering introducing oral nicotine products, including snus and chewing tobacco.
Currently all oral nicotine products are illegal in New Zealand.
Hoek questioned the wisdom of introducing new nicotine products without strong evidence they would reduce harm and warned that some oral nicotine products were designed to attract young people.
“I taught marketing for 20 years. I can tell you these are products that are designed to appeal to young people,” Hoek said. “They’ve got really cool packaging and logos. They use the colours and designs that are going to attract the attention and interest of young people.”