Government proposes new vaping regulations

The Government's announced moves to regulate vaping.

A Bill is being introduced to Parliament on Monday which includes a total ban on all advertising of smokeless products and no sales to under-18s.

It will also ban using e-cigarettes and smokeless tobacco in smokefree areas, restrict who can sell them, limit some retailers to only three flavours and give the Ministry of Health powers to recall, suspend and issue warnings about vaping products.

"This is a considered approach that responds to many of the concerns regarding vaping," said Associate Minister of Health Jenny Salesa, calling it the "most significant change to New Zealand's smokefree laws since they were introduced 30 years ago".

"The Bill aims to strike the right balance between making sure vaping is available for smokers who want to use it as a quit tool for cigarettes while ensuring vaping products are not marketed or sold to children and young people."

Action for Smokefree 2025 director Deborah Hart said the Bill is a step in the right direction.

"Vaping is the most disruptive influence on smoking in decades. We have about 150,000 to 200,000 people vaping in New Zealand, and 47 percent of them are former smokers."

The biggest effect the Bill will have is preventing kids from being tempted to take up vaping, she said, by limiting marketing and the flavours that are available to just tobacco, mint and menthol.

"The marketing is the thing that's really going to reduce the number of kids taking up vaping. If you don't have marketing to them, that's a really good thing."

She also praised the Bill for allowing quick recalls and suspensions of dodgy vaping products.

"The Ministry of Health can be very nimble in stopping anything that looks like it's harmful... that's going to ensure the legislation is future-proofed, and that's fantastic."

The Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Bill will get its first reading in March, before being referred to the Health Select Committee, presuming it passes.

"The Government is keen to hear from New Zealanders about where they think the appropriate balance for vaping regulation should be set," said Salesa. "I look forward to everyone having their say at select committee".

Jenny Salesa.
Jenny Salesa. Photo credit: The Project

Cancer Society advocacy and wellbeing manager Shayne Nahu told Newshub he wants the Bill to be passed as soon as possible.

"The fact that we've got regulations around age, that's a good start; the removing of advertising and promotion, that's a really key thing for us."

He is calling for cross-party support to make sure it goes ahead.

The National Party has previously criticised the Government for taking so long to introduce vaping legislation, but appears likely to back the Bill.

"National is committed to working constructively to develop this necessary legislation," health spokesperson Michael Woodhouse said last week.

"Now the Government needs to front up and get on with the job."