The Invercargill City Council wants vaping restrictions included in the proposed national smokefree strategy but does not support the amended age-related ban on buying tobacco.
The council discussed its submission on the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Amendment Bill at a meeting yesterday.
The Bill cuts down the number of outlets selling tobacco over the country from 6500 to 500 and prohibits the sale of tobacco to anyone born on or after January 1, 2009.
Invercargill has a higher smoking rate then the national average with 17.9% of the population smokers compared with a national average of 13.2%.
There are 59 known tobacco outlets in Invercargill, 55 of them within 1km of a school.
The Invercargill youth council had not wanted the age restriction introduced.
The council backed its youth counterparts and backed taking much stronger measures to reduce widespread access to and harm from vaping, rather than introducing age-related limits for use of tobacco which removes freedom of choice from young people for the rest of their lives.
Cr Ian Pottinger said he commended the youth council and its work but there was an elephant in the room which the Government refused to discuss.
He said 31% of the country’s population over the age of 18 was obese and that was far more of a burden on the health system than smoking.
Cr Pottinger said the Government needed to do more about sugar-laden drinks and said he could not believe a 1.5-litre bottle of softdrink could be bought in a supermarket for $2. Government needed to be more targeted with its smokefree scheme, he said.
Cr Lesley Soper said the Government has addressed the issue around obesity and more work was to come.
Cr Alex Crackett said many youths were now picking up vaping that would never pick up a cigarette. She said vaping was very harmful. Vaping needed more of a focus than age bans.
“We want to limit use rather than age-related limits,” she said.
Deputy Mayor Nobby Clark said the true harm of vaping was not known yet and he could not understand why the Government was looking to clamp down on cigarettes but not vaping.
The rate of smokers in Invercargill of nearly 18% was the worst in the country. He doubted the closure of stores would have much impact as people could travel to get the products.