The Government has unveiled plans to make e-cigarettes legal, in a bid to claw back lost ground on the ambitious target to make New Zealand smokefree by 2025.
Associate Health Minister Nicky Wagner has announced the sale of nicotine e-cigarettes and e-liquid will be made legal and will likely come into force late next year.
“Scientific evidence on the safety of e-cigarettes is still developing but there’s a general consensus that vaping is much less harmful than smoking,” she said.
“This is an opportunity to see if restricted access to e-cigarettes and e-liquid can help lower our smoking rates, reduce harm and save lives.”
E-cigarettes are electrical devices that mimic smoked tobacco products but produce a vapour (rather than smoke), which the users inhale (called “vaping”). Liquid for the device can come with or without nicotine, in a variety of flavours.
Wagner said the government was taking a “cautious approach” by aligning the regulations around vaping with those for cigarettes.
“This ensures cigarette smokers have access to a lower-risk alternative while we continue to discourage people from smoking or vaping in the first place.”
New rules for all e-cigarettes, whether or not they contain nicotine, include:
– Restricting sales to those 18 years and over
– Prohibiting vaping in indoor workplaces and other areas where smoking is banned under the Smoke-free Environments Act
– Restricting advertising to limit the attraction of e-cigarettes to non-smokers, especially children and young people.
Wagner said the government is strongly committed to achieving the goal of a smokefree New Zealand by 2025.
The excise tax that applies to cigarettes would not be added on to e-cigarettes, and strict advertising rules would limit the exposure of the products to young people.
All retailers will be allowed to display e-cigarettes and e-liquid at the point-of-sale, however retailers that restricted entry to people aged 18 and over will be allowed to display e-cigarettes and e-liquid in-store, including in the window display, and promote products on the outside of their stores.
Restricted R18 stores were also allowed to offer discounts, free-samples, loyalty rewards and co-packaging. Public advertising on billboards, radio, TV and the internet will be prohibited.
While the sale has been and still is illegal, enforcement of the law has been almost non-existant. New Zealand’s largest retailer of e-cigarettes, Cosmic, has welcomed the Government’s announcement.
“We’ve been retailing e-cigarettes for five years now and it is great to have positive clarity around the legislation,” said owner Mark Carswell.
“Unfortunately, from a public safety perspective, not all products are created equal, which is why our buyers ensure all liquids and devices sold by Cosmic are of the highest standard.”
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