Are e-cigarettes illegal?

E-cigarettes haven't been given the go-ahead by the Ministry of Health as a way to quit smoking (Getty)
E-cigarettes haven't been given the go-ahead by the Ministry of Health as a way to quit smoking (Getty)

I was walking along Lambton Quay a couple of nights ago and in front of me was a guy who was smoking.

I moved hastily to get out of his wake to avoid inhaling his second hand smoke and as I did this, I caught a whiff of it. It smelt delicious. It smelt like strawberries. 

That's when I realised it was an e-cigarette and he wasn't smoking, he was vaping.

Then this morning, I heard David Seymour calling for e-cigarettes to be legalised. 

Ummmm what? They're illegal? Surely not. After a bit of probing around, I realised the ACT leader was mostly right. 

Some facts:

  • E-cigarettes are electronic devices mimicking cigarettes but instead of tobacco, they contain a liquid canister that vapourises when the user inhales.

  • No e-cigarette brands have been authorised by the Ministry of Health as a method to quit smoking, meaning they cannot be marketed as such.

  • There are no regulations or productions standards for e-cigarettes.

  • The Ministry of Health says there’s not enough research-based evidence yet to classify them a smoking cessation option + its long term effects aren’t known.

The rules around e-cigarettes:

  • It is illegal to sell e-cigarettes that contain nicotine.

  • It is illegal to sell e-cigarettes if you advertise them as helping smokers quit (unless they are approved by Medsafe, but none have been)

  • You cannot sell e-cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18.

  • It is legal to import nicotine-containing e-cigarettes if they are for your personal use only.

  • Nicotine-free e-cigarettes can be sold freely in New Zealand.

  • You can use an e-cigarette in a non-smoking area

Newshub.

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