Vaping law and policy
Vaping products are relatively new and the Government is soon to change the law so that it is better suited for vaping. Vaping products are marketed as consumer goods.
Law and regulations
It is an offence to sell nicotine vaping products to young people aged under 18. There are no legal restrictions on where people can vape.
Vape devices and e-liquids are regulated under the Smoke-free Environments Act 1990. However, this wasn’t designed for vaping and there are no safety standards on what can be sold.
Flavourings are regulated under the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.
The government has indicated they want New Zealand to have vaping-specific laws and regulations. These are currently being drafted.
Local councils and individual businesses can make their own policies and rules around vaping. This is a way for them to decide where people can vape.
Council policy makers should consider the needs of communities. Businesses need to think about their employees who are quitting smoking, together with those with sensitivities to vaping.
The Ministry of Health established a Technical Expert Advisory Group on Electronic Cigarette Product Safety to advise on vaping product safety standards. These are in development.
Nicotine is a scheduled substance under the Medicines Act 1981. It is illegal to sell a vaping product (with or without nicotine) while making a therapeutic claim, unless the product has been approved for that purpose by Medsafe. No manufacturer or importer has sought Medsafe’s approval.
The Smoke-free Environments Act regulates the sale and distribution of all tobacco products. This means it applies to smoked tobacco, heated tobacco and vaping products that are manufactured from tobacco. This includes the ban on sales to minors.
Ministry of Health
The Ministry of Health released a statement in October 2017 stating that vaping has the potential to help people quit smoking, and contribute to New Zealand’s Smokefree 2025 goal.
The current state of smoking in New Zealand is:
- 12.5% of people smoke daily, that’s 490,000 people
- smoking and second-hand smoke causes about 5,000 deaths a year
- up to two-thirds of people who smoke today, and continue to, will eventually be killed by tobacco
- people who smoke one pack per day spend approximately $9,000 a year.
The Ministry of Health will continue to monitor the evidence on vaping. It will also monitor the number of New Zealanders taking up vaping (both of smokers and young people/non-smokers).
The Ministry of Health will continue to provide smokers and the public with clear, evidence-based information about the relative harm of nicotine, vaping and smoked tobacco, to enable informed decision-making.
Almost all vapers in New Zealand, including youth, are current smokers or ex-smokers. For more detail, read the findings on the Dual Use of Electronic Cigarettes and Tobacco in New Zealand from a Nationally Representative Sample, 2019.
View the Ministry of Health website for up-to-date information on the regulation process.