New regulations that protect the youth and non-smokers in New Zealand from the risks of vaping are now in effect, the Associate Minister of Health Dr. Ayesha Verrall announced in a press release on 10 August 2021. In essence, the legislation allows vaping products available to adults especially smokers who want to switch to a healthier alternative while preventing these products to be marketed and sold to young people. Dr. Verrall commented that this law is for a “healthier future for Aotearoa.”
Back in November 2020, the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990 was expanded to include the regulation of vaping products with the addition of the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Act 2020.
Key takeaways on the new vaping regulations in NZ or the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Regulations 2021 are the following:
- Toys and cartoons are banned on the packaging to reduce the appeal of vaping products to the youth;
- Vaping substances must not have freebase nicotine strength of more than 20 mg/mL or nicotine salt strength of more than 50 mg/mL.
- A container of vaping substance on retail must not have a total nicotine content of more than 1,800 mg, whether free-base nicotine or nicotine salts. A container should also not have more than 120 mL unless it’s a zero-nicotine vaping substance.
- Safety standards are set for vaping appliances including nicotine delivery and electrical safety.
- Requirements are set for labelling as well as safety warnings on packaging.
- Containers should have child-resistant closures and should be protected from spillage, breakage and leakage.
- Advertising of vaping products is regulated to raise awareness of vaping as a less harmful alternative to smoking.
- Beginning 11 August 2021, importers and manufacturers should notify the Ministry of Health of their intention to sell smokeless tobacco and vaping products. Prior to notifying the Ministry, these products must meet safety requirements. Specifically, propylene glycol (PG), vegetable glycerol (VG) and nicotine must be of pharmaceutical level. All liquids must undergo and pass testing done by an accredited laboratory prior to their sale.
- By February 2022, importers and manufacturers cannot sell vaping products in New Zealand if they have not notified the Ministry.
- By 11 May 2022, importers and manufacturers must make sure product packaging conforms to the regulations.
- Generic retailers e.g. supermarkets, dairies and service stations can only sell vaping products in tobacco, menthol and mint flavours;
- Only specialist vape retailers (SVRs) are allowed to sell vaping products in other flavours.
- From 11 August 2022, SVRs and general retailers must only sell regulated products that conform to packaging regulations.
- Beginning 28 November 2021, it is forbidden to smoke and even vape inside motor vehicles with children.
To ensure enforcement of the regulations with the aim to protect children and the youth, Smokefree Enforcement Officers will inspect establishments as well as marketing materials of vaping products for sale.
According to Dr. Verrall, the implementation of these vaping regulations represents an “exciting and significant” milestone towards New Zealand’s goal for Smokefree Aotearoa 2025, as more than 2,500 individuals and organisations contributed to the proposal through a public consultation.
Among those who participated were the health sector organisations, smokers and vapers, the tobacco and vaping industry, the retailers as well as the general public. Focus groups were also run by Tala Pasifika and Hāpai te Hauora, which contributed almost a thousand submissions from Māori and Pacific people.