Law and regulations
The Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Act 2020 (the Amendment Act) commenced on 11 November 2020. The Amendment Act amended the Smoke-free Environments Act 1990 and renamed it the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990 (referred to as the Act).
The Act strikes a balance between ensuring vaping products are available for smokers who want to switch to a less harmful alternative and ensuring these products aren’t marketed or sold to young people.
The provisions of the Act are being phased in over a 15-month period. This means some provisions came into force straight away, and others take effect further down the track.
Examples of The Act:
- Requires all workplaces, including restaurants and bars to be Smokefree and Vapefree
- Requires the buildings and grounds of schools, early childhood education and care centres to be Smokefree and Vapefree
- Prohibits the sale of vaping products including non-nicotine vape liquid and toy vaping products to anyone under the age of 18 years
- Prohibits the supply of vaping products directly or indirectly to anyone under the age of 18 years
- Sets the requirements for vaping products safety standards that need to be met before the products can be sold
An overview of the Amendment Act’s key timeline is available to download on the Ministry’s website here.
Local Councils, individual businesses and workplaces can make their own policies around vaping as long as they meet the minimum requirements of the law. Many find the easiest way is to amend their smokefree policy to include vapefree. This is a way for them to decide where people can vape, for example, an employer may decide that a specific outdoor space can be used for vaping, or alternatively no vaping should be allowed on any outdoor areas controlled by the employer.
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.
From 11 August 2021, safety regulations have to be met before a vaping product can be sold in New Zealand. These include:
- packaging (manufacturers/importers)
- health warnings on vaping products (manufacturers/importers)
- harm reduction notices (retailers/Specialist Vape Retailers)
- safety messages on vaping products (manufacturers/importers)
- availability of vaping products notices (retailers/Specialist Vape Retailers)
- R18 notices at each point of sale (retailers/Specialist Vape Retailers)
- manufacturer price lists (manufacturers)
- requirements around vaping product safety (manufacturers/importers/retailers/Specialist Vape Retailers)
- submitting product notifications (manufacturers/importers)
- only selling notified vaping products (retailers/Specialist Vape Retailers)
- annual reporting and returns (manufacturers/importers/Specialist Vape Retailers)
- fees (manufacturers/importers/retailers who wish to be Specialist Vape Retailers).
You can read more about the safety regulations on the Ministry of Health website. The regulations are the responsibility of the Ministry of Health Vaping Regulatory Authority.
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.
New Zealand’s Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Act 2020 (the Amendment Act) is one of the most comprehensive pieces of tobacco control legislation in the world, regulating both tobacco and vaping products. Prior to the arrival of Captain Cook, there was no tobacco in New Zealand, and tangata whenua were completely tupeka kore (smokefree). For more information on the history of tobacco in New Zealand click here.
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:
- 11.6% of people smoke daily, that’s 464,000 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 $12,000 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.