E-cigarettes may get Govt approval for sale

E-cigarettes may get Govt approval for sale

E-cigarettes could soon be made legal and sold in a similar way to cigarettes under new Government proposals.

The idea has been put out for consultation by Associate Health Minister Sam Lotu-Iiga which proposes changes to the legal status of the relatively new product.

The sale and supple of e-cigarettes containing nicotine is currently illegal in New Zealand, but people are skirting the law by buying them online and importing them for personal use.

Changes would make the sale and supply of all e-cigarettes legal with "appropriate controls".

"The proposals would mean restricting the sale of e-cigarettes to people aged 18 years and over. The changes would prevent e-cigarettes being advertised and ban their use in smoke-free areas.

"We also have to consider various quality and safety issues which may pose health risks to users and non-users.  Ensuring e-liquids are sold in child-proof containers to prevent accidental poisoning is one obvious safety measure," Mr Lotu-Iiga says.

While the product has only recently come onto the market, Mr Lotu-Iiga says there's a "scientific consensus" they're less harmful than tobacco cigarettes.

The devices mimic smoked tobacco, but produce a vapour instead of smoke.

They heat a solution which the user then inhales or "vapes".

Cosmic is one of New Zealand's big stockists of non-nicotine-based e-cigarettes.

"We're really pleased the Government is considering this," says Christchurch area manager Scott Curtis. "We consider vaping to be the biggest breakthrough for smokers who haven't been able to quit using patches or Champex."

Mr Curtis believes the Government may have taken its cue from overseas.

"Basically seeing what the UK is doing - in the UK you can be prescribed nicotine liquid and e-cigarettes from your GP."

Consultation is open until 5pm on September 12.