New Zealand Vape Shops Four Times Larger Than KFC and McDonald’s

On July 21, the Otago Daily Times News reported that new research shows that New Zealand has far more e-cigarette stores than the KFC and McDonald’s restaurant chains. Specialist e-cigarette retailers at this stage outnumber McDonald’s and KFC stores four to one, and also outnumber the number of community pharmacies in the country.

The number of specialist e-cigarette stores has almost doubled

The New Zealand government announced a series of measures to tackle e-cigarettes back in June, which included a ban on new e-cigarette stores within 300 meters of schools and Mari cultural centers (a cultural gathering place for New Zealand’s aboriginal Maori community, suitable for hosting cultural, social and religious events).

Professor Janet Hoek of the University of Otago Wellington noted that a study in June 2022 found that there were 645 specialist e-cigarette retailers (SVRs) in New Zealand, 613 of which were less than 1km from a school.

Since that study, the number of specialist e-cigarette stores has almost doubled.

While the proposals offer some protection for young people, the omission of “store density measures”, the lack of retrospective authority and the lack of a limit on the overall number of stores is a concern.

She said:

“At this stage there are four times more specialist e-cigarette retailers than there are McDonald’s and KFC stores, and there are even more specialist e-cigarette stores than there are community pharmacies in the country.”

The E-Cigarette Act allows regular stores to sell e-cigarette products with tobacco, menthol, or mint flavors, and specialty stores, which are R18 stores, to sell the full range of flavors.

The regulations implementing the Act go into effect in August 2021, and as of last November, the E-Cigarette Regulatory Authority had approved 671 applications for specialty e-cigarette stores. By the end of March this year, another 534 applications had been approved.

Hawk senses that more and more small retailers, often dairy store owners, are parceling out their stores into specialty e-cigarette stores.

She said:

“The growth of these ‘shop-in-shops’ means that specialist e-cigarette stores are now located near schools and playgrounds, which is not in line with the legislation’s aim of reducing harm to young people and children.”

She said the solution to the problem was to introduce a “phase-down” policy.

“Young people’s access to e-cigarette products should be restricted for as long as e-cigarette stores remain in operation. Specifically, retail displays should not be allowed in general stores and no e-cigarette products should be displayed in any store that is visible from the outside.”

“Phasing down” the number of e-cigarette stores

The increase in the number of e-cigarette stores has, to some extent, also posed a problem for the regulation of the industry. Some in the industry would like to see e-cigarettes categorized as “smoking cessation products”.

Cody Peneamene, business development manager at e-cigarette store Vaporium, said he welcomed any measure that would put the e-cigarette market back into “the cessation business rather than the recreational business.”

“We’ve seen a steady increase in the number of stores that specialize in selling disposable e-cigarettes.”

Mr. Peneamene said restrictions on e-cigarettes around schools would curb the recreational market, which is “ultimately a good thing.”

He thinks a “gradual reduction” policy might be a good idea, and Vaporium is “broadly supportive and supportive of the Department of Health’s regulatory measures.”

“This is completely unnecessary for a regulated product that should be seen as health-based.