New Zealand’s Approach to Vaping Regulations
A Comparison with Australia’s Ban
Health Minister Ayesha Verrall says the New Zealand Government is not currently looking at following Australia’s lead in banning all vaping products for recreational use, stating they need to remain “readily available” as regulations on tobacco ramp up. Meanwhile, National Party leader Christopher Luxon says he would be open to “all things” including a ban, stating the current settings for vaping products in New Zealand are “wrong”.
New Zealand’s Vaping Statistics
It comes as the latest data here shows a higher proportion of year 10 students vape daily than adults. While New Zealand’s number of daily smokers has dropped dramatically in recent years, the number of people vaping nicotine-based products and using e-cigarettes has been on the rise, primarily as a substitute for smoking tobacco products but increasingly for recreation and among youth.
The 2021/22 NZ Health Survey
The 2021/22 NZ Health Survey found 8.3 per cent of adults – those aged over 15 – were vaping/using e-cigarettes daily, up from 6.2 per cent the previous year and 0.9 per cent in 2015/16. Meanwhile, 8 per cent of adults in 2021/22 smoked daily, down from 9.4 per cent the previous year and 16.4 per cent in 2011/12.
The ASH Survey of Year 10 Students for 2022
The ASH survey of year 10 students for 2022 found 10.1 per cent of the nearly 30,000 respondents vaped daily – up from 9.6 per cent in 2021 and more than tripling since 2019. The number of year 10 students regularly vaping – including weekly and monthly – dropped in 2022 to 18.2 per cent from 20.2 per cent in 2021. Meanwhile, the number of year 10 students regularly smoking cigarettes continues to decline from 4.2 per cent in 2021 to 3 per cent in 2022.
Australia’s Vaping Regulations
Since 2021, nicotine vapes can only be sold in Australia with a prescription – but a black market for the products is thriving, and non-nicotine vapes sold at convenience stores are often found to contain the highly addictive substance.
Australian Government’s New Regulations
According to ABC, the Australian Government this week said it was going to increase regulations, ban the importation of non-prescription vapes and close down the sale of vapes in retail settings. Vapes will only be sold in pharmacies and in “pharmaceutical-like” packaging, with certain flavours, colours and other ingredients banned, and the concentration and volume of nicotine reduced. All single-use disposable vapes will also be banned.
Easing Access to Vaping for Smoking Cessation
The Government will also make it easier for people to get a prescription for using vapes to help quit smoking. Verrall said vaping was an important tool to support people to quit smoking, particularly for the newly smoke-free, but the balance needed to be right in making sure young people did not take it up.
“We haven’t got that balance right at the moment.”
Consultation on Vaping Regulations in New Zealand
Verrall said they had been consulting on a range of proposals including flavours, branding, disposable vapes, and proximity of sales to schools. Verrall said a recreational ban was not part of that consultation, while also stating that doing so would require a change to legislation, for which there was not enough time left in the political year.
The Importance of Vaping for Smoking Cessation
“Vaping does have an important role in supporting people to quit, and New Zealand is about to take an extraordinary step in the world and making it very hard to access tobacco. So for that reason, it is important that adults who are seeking to quit have vapes readily available and it isn’t a barrier to them.”
Striking a Balance in Vaping Regulations
As the vaping landscape evolves in both Australia and New Zealand, the challenge for policymakers will be to strike a balance between supporting adults who are seeking to quit smoking through vaping and preventing the uptake of vaping among young people. It remains to be seen whether New Zealand will follow Australia’s lead in implementing stricter regulations on vaping products.
Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the current status of vaping regulations in New Zealand?
Health Minister Ayesha Verrall has stated that New Zealand is not planning to follow Australia’s lead in banning all vaping products for recreational use, though consultations on proposals for vaping regulations are ongoing.
- How does Australia regulate vaping products?
In Australia, nicotine vapes can only be sold with a prescription. The government is also increasing regulations, banning the importation of non-prescription vapes, and closing down the sale of vapes in retail settings.
- What is the trend of vaping among New Zealand’s youth?
The latest data shows that a higher proportion of year 10 students in New Zealand vape daily than adults, with the number of students regularly vaping increasing significantly in recent years.
- Are there any plans to ban vaping in New Zealand?
Health Minister Ayesha Verrall has said that a recreational ban on vaping is not part of the current consultation on vaping regulations, and any such ban would require a change in legislation.
- Why is vaping considered an important tool for smoking cessation?
Vaping can provide a less harmful alternative for smokers looking to quit, as it can deliver nicotine without the harmful chemicals found in tobacco smoke.