Wednesday, 11 November 2020, 9:15 am
From today – 11 November – the existing prohibition on smoking inside workplaces will be extended to include vaping, but Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy (AVCA) says there are other areas vapers need to respect as well.
Vape-free areas include buses, trains, taxis and rideshare services, passenger queuing areas and lounges, and any part of a casino, restaurant or licensed premises that is not an open area.
“We encourage New Zealand’s 200,000 vapers to think a little more before they vape. The general rule is if you wouldn’t smoke there, you shouldn’t vape there. The likes of shopping malls, and around schools and childcare centres are a no no. At the same time, many councils have made their outdoor city centre areas and council parks vape-free as well,” says Nancy Loucas, AVCA co-director.
Passed by Parliament in August, the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Act commences on 11 November, with vaping advertising now banned and various other regulations coming into effect over the next 15 months for the likes retailers to adhere to.
AVCA is concerned that with vaping, in many cases, now being treated like smoking, the effective smoking cessation tool may be further stigmatised. Instead, they say, councils, workplaces and employers should be creating opportunities for vapers to vape, otherwise more will return to considerably harmful smoking.
“Employers will still be able to permit vaping in a company vehicle, with some very workable provisions in place. Patients in hospital care or rest home residents can vape within a dedicated room for vaping, provided there is the likes of adequate ventilation. At the same time, a good employer would dedicate an outside area to vaping, where employees feel comfortable taking a vape break,” she says.
Ms Loucas says vapers have for some time had to tread carefully siting outside restaurants, bars, and cafés. In 2018, Auckland Council, for example, made 800 alfresco dining areas on council property smoke and vape free.
From 11 November, employers must take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure that no person vapes inside at any time in a workplace, unless exemptions apply. However, AVCA says it would be a terrible unintended consequence of the new vaping legislation if bad employers used the new regulations to try to ban employees from vaping even outside.
“Vaping is now effectively banned where smoking is, but it’s by no means banned outright. Instead, it’s finally a totally legalised activity for New Zealand adults, albeit now more tightly regulated,” she says.
International research has shown that vaping has proven to be 95% less harmful than tobacco, with smoking-related illnesses killing 5,000 New Zealanders each year.
“We now encourage non-vaping Kiwis to remember vaping is stopping their colleagues, friends, and family from smoking. We ask that vapers respect the new legal framework, but we also ask that everyone else respect that vapers can still legitimately vape in plenty of places,” says Nancy Loucas.