Last updated: December 10, 2021
Sale of e-cigarettes
The sale of e-cigarettes is allowed subject to restrictions including a minimum sales age.
Use in indoor public places, workplaces, and public transport
The law prohibits the use of e-cigarettes in indoor workplaces and public places with the exception of: 1) work vehicles to which the public does not have access, under specified conditions that all employees consent to use of e-cigarettes in the vehicle; 2) dedicated rooms in hospital care institutions, residential disability care institutions, and rest homes; and (3) “approved vaping premises of a specialist vape retailer” (specialist retailers must receive approval from the Director-General of Health).
The law generally prohibits the use of e-cigarettes in passenger service vehicles, taxis, trains, ships, and aircraft, with a few limited exemptions. Specifically, use of e-cigarettes is permitted in a small passenger service vehicle “when it is returning from carrying passengers at the end of a shift” and in a large passenger service vehicle so long as the vehicle is not carrying passengers. Further, use of e-cigarettes is permitted in a ship cabin or sleeping compartment on a train occupied by a passenger or employee because these areas are exempt from the definition of “workplace.”
Due to these limited exemptions, the regulatory status code “Some Restrictions” is given.
Advertising and promotion (excluding point of sale product display)
The law generally prohibits the advertisement and promotion of “regulated products,” which include e-cigarettes and e-liquids. The definition of “regulated product advertisement” is broad and prohibits most direct or indirect advertising or promotion. However, there are a number of exceptions to this prohibition, including:
- the display of e-cigarettes inside a retailer’s premises or on their website;
- information provided in a retailer’s place of business relating to e-cigarette use being a less harmful alternative to smoking (until regulations are in force prescribing the information that may be provided);
- communications about e-cigarettes from approved specialist retailers to their existing customers;
- oral communications about e-cigarettes from approved specialist retailers to customers within their approved retail premises;
- distribution of e-cigarettes for free or at a reduced charge by approved specialist retailers;
- gift or cash rebates or the right to participate in a contest, lottery, or game by approved specialist retailers;
- price lists in a retailer’s premises, on their website, or on automatic vending machines provided these only identify the e-cigarettes available and that they use only printed or written words (or spoken words, in the case of a retailer’s premises);
- public notices indicating that regulated products are generally available and the location(s) where they can be purchased, using only printed or written words, and provided that they comply with any regulations; and
- the retailer’s name or trade name on the outside of their premises, provided the name does not signify regulated products can be purchased, is not a trademark of a regulated product, and is not the name of a manufacturer or importer of regulated products.
Due to these exceptions, the regulatory status code “Some Restrictions” is given.
The law prohibits any manufacturer, importer, distributor or retailer of regulated products from sponsoring an organized activity that involves an e-cigarette or company trademark or that is likely to cause a person to believe that an e-cigarette trademark is being used. It also prohibits sponsorship that involves an exclusive supply arrangement, where only one person supplies regulated products during all or part of the activity, as well as the use of regulated product or company trademarks for the purpose of advertising or identifying to the public any service, activity, event, scholarship, fellowship, or other educational benefit. Sponsorship includes any contribution, financial or otherwise, toward organizations or individuals associated with the activity. Contributions are allowed so long as no trademark or brand name is involved, but prohibited if a trademark or brand name is intrinsically involved in the sponsorship.
Due to these exceptions, the regulatory status code “Some Restrictions” is given.
Point of sale product display
The law explicitly permits point of sale display of e-cigarettes (in compliance with any future regulations).
Health claims in advertising (modified risk claims)
The law does not ban health claims in advertising, and in fact explicitly authorizes the provision of information in a retailer’s place of business relating to the use of e-cigarettes as a being a less harmful alternative to smoking.
Sale of e-cigarettes via the internet
The law permits the internet sale of e-cigarettes provided that the information provided to purchasers is “only in the form of printed or written words,” “does no more than identify the regulated product and indicate its price,” and complies with any regulatory requirements. Product display on websites is permitted. Therefore, the regulatory status code “Some Restrictions” is given.
The law prohibits general retailers from selling e-cigarettes with flavors other than tobacco, mint, or menthol. Approved specialist e-cigarette retailers may sell products of any flavor that has not been prohibited. (Currently, there are no prohibited flavors; therefore, approved specialist e-cigarette retailers may sell any flavored e-cigarettes.)
The law prohibits the sale of e-cigarettes that contain coloring substances. In addition, the law prohibits e-cigarettes from including any other prohibited substance as determined by the Director-General. Through the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Regulations 2021, the following additives/substances are prohibited:
- carcinogenic, mutagenic, reprotoxic (CMR) substances
- additives associated with energy or vitality (e.g., caffeine, taurine)
- vitamins or other additives that create the impression there are health benefits or reduced risks
- specified sugars or sweeteners
Health warnings on product packaging
The law requires the following text-only health warning message to be displayed on e-cigarette product packaging: “This product contains nicotine, which is a highly addictive substance.” The message must be in both English and te reo Māori and must be displayed in the “reserved area” (defined as at least 32% of the surface area) of the front and back surfaces.
Other product packaging and labeling requirements
E-cigarette product packaging must include (either on the packaging or as an insert) instructions for use, information about the consequences of incorrect use, and handling precautions.
Additionally, the packaging of e-liquid (“vaping substance”) must display four safety messages:
- “CAUTION: Keep this substance out of reach of children or pets.”
- “Do not swallow this substance. If this substance is taken into the mouth, rinse mouth thoroughly.”
- “Contact 0800 POISON (0800 764 766) for advice if this substance is swallowed.”
- “Seek medical advice if you feel unwell after contact with this substance or use of this product.”
E-liquid packaging must also include the following information:
- safety instructions
- ingredient names and quantities
- substance volume/weight
- manufacturing batch number
- manufacturer contact information
- expiration date
- ratio of propylene glycol to vegetable glycerol
- the words “contains alcohol,” if more than 3% alcohol
- nicotine concentration, if any
- the words “non-nicotine” or “zero nicotine,” if applicable
E-cigarette packaging must not refer to additives other than flavors or the absence of additives; have any feature that resembles a food or cosmetic product; suggest that the product is less harmful than other products, has revitalizing, energizing, healing, rejuvenating, natural, or organic properties, or has other health or lifestyle benefits.
Maximum nicotine concentration
The strength of free-base nicotine must not exceed 20 mg/ml. The strength of nicotine sale must not exceed 50 mg/ml.
Devices must meet a series of product safety conditions outlined in Part 2 of Schedule 5. These include:
- mechanisms to ensure user safety and battery safety
- the ability to deliver nicotine at consistent levels
- a serial or batch number that allows the product to be traced to the time and place of its manufacture
Manufacturer/importer disclosures and/or notification requirements
The law requires that manufacturers and importers of e-cigarettes notify the Ministry of Health on an annual basis by completing a database entry with the notifier’s contact details; a description of the product and its parts (including its substances); and a declaration by the notifier that the product complies with all regulatory requirements. A new notification is required if the product undergoes a “significant change” which includes changes to the composition or nicotine level of the e-liquid or changes to the atomizer.
Additionally, a notifier must report any adverse reaction to the notifiable product to the Ministry of Health as soon as practicable after the notifier becomes aware of the event.
Annual reports of sales-related information are also required from manufacturers, importers, and approved specialist e-cigarette retailers.
Sale of e-cigarettes via vending machines
The law allows the sale of e-cigarettes by automatic vending machines as long as the vending machines are not located in a public place. If the vending machine is visible by the members of the public, a health warning must be displayed on the machine as prescribed by regulations. Information on the outside of the machine can only identify the products available for sale using printed or written words and indicate their prices. E-cigarettes, however, are permitted to be visible (whereas other regulated products (i.e., tobacco products) must not be visible) from outside the machine.