The facts of vaping

Vaping law and policy

Vaping products are relatively new and the government has recently passed a law that better regulates vaping. The Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990 came into force on 11 November 2020.

Law and regulations

The Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Act 2020 commenced on 11 November 2020, amending the Smoke-free Environments Act 1990 and renaming it to the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990.

The new Act strikes a balance between ensuring vaping products are available for smokers who want to use them to reduce the harm to their health, and making sure these products aren’t marketed or sold to non-smokers, especially young people.

The new Act will be phased in over a period of 15 months following commencement. This means that some things will come into force straight away, and others further down the track. An overview of the Amendment Act’s key timeline is available to download on the Ministry’s website here

It is an offence to sell nicotine vaping products to young people aged under 18. From 11 November 2020 people cannot vape in legislated smokefree areas. These areas will all be smokefree and vape free.

The new legislation provides for safety standards that need to be met before vaping products can be sold.

Policies

Local councils and individual businesses can make their own policies around vaping as long as they meet the minimum requirements of the law. 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.

What should employers do? Learn about vaping at work What about schools and early childhood centres? From 11 November 2020 vaping is prohibited in all schools and early childhood centres (including both the grounds and buildings) at all times.

Safety

Regulations are being developed under the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990. These will set out the product safety standards that have to be met before a vaping product can be sold in New Zealand.

Medicine

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.

Tobacco

The Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990 previously named Smoke-free Environments Act 1990 commenced on 11 November 2020.

The new Act will provide the regulatory controls for smoked tobacco, heated tobacco and vaping products.

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.