New Zealand will soon require removable batteries in all vaping devices, while also imposing nicotine concentration limits, banning certain types of flavour names, and tightening restrictions on retail.
Regulations setting out the new measures come into force on 21st September, although there are different transitional periods for each requirement, some of them extending to 21st March next year.
The maximum concentration of nicotine allowed in single-use vapes will be reduced to 20 mg/ml, although a higher concentration of 28.5 mg/ml will be permitted in reusable vaping products that contain nicotine only in salt form.
Health minister Ayesha Verrall said: “We have set the maximum nicotine levels to balance the need for sufficient nicotine to be an effective smoking-cessation device, while limiting the risk of nicotine addiction, especially for young people, and particularly from cheap single-use vaping products.”
A New Zealand health ministry spokesperson told ECigIntelligence that smokers using vaping products to help them quit can discuss reducing their nicotine levels with a specialist vape retailer.
Flavours can be identified using only designated names, which are set out in a list in the regulations. This means that more general descriptors such as “cotton candy” will no longer be allowed.
Rules for specialist and general retailers
New specialist vape shops will not be allowed to open within 300 m of schools and marae (Maori meeting houses for social and religious purposes), although existing ones can continue operating, and non-specialist retailers such as supermarkets within 300 m can still sell e-cigarettes – reportedly the cause of some concern.
However, the ministry spokesperson responded: “While general retailers, such as dairies and supermarkets, can operate near schools and marae, they can only sell a limited range of flavours – mint, menthol and tobacco.”
The spokesperson said general retailers will also be required to notify the director-general of health by 1st October that they are selling notifiable products, including vaping products. This applies to those not currently selling vape products but that choose to do so after the requirement comes into effect.
The regulations do not require general retailers to be “approved”, said the spokesperson, but just to notify the director-general that they are selling vaping products.
General retailers will also have to comply with other requirements, including displaying the purchase age (18) at each point-of-sale for vaping products, the prohibition on sales to under-18s, and a ban on advertising.
Aiming to ‘strike a balance’ with regulations
“The regulations aim to strike a balance between ensuring that some areas were still available to open specialist vape retailers and ensuring that new ones were not opened directly outside of schools and marae,” the spokesperson said. “The distance of 300m was chosen to ensure that the proximity boundary generally extends outside the grounds of schools without completely prohibiting new stores from being established.”
Verrall said: “The impact of these regulations will continue to be monitored. Nothing is off the table in terms of what we need to do to make sure we see a reduction in youth vaping while retaining sufficient tools for smoking cessation.”
Last year New Zealand became the first country in the world to legislate for an annually rising minimum age for purchase of combustible products, meaning that anyone born on or after 1st January 2009 will never be able to legally buy cigarettes. However, that restriction does not apply to vapour products.
– Tracey Cheung ECigIntelligence contributing writer
Photo: Robert Pearce