Article – Science Media Centre
Nicotine e-cigs will be legal
Associate Health Minister Nicky Wagner has announced the sale of nicotine e-cigarettes and e-liquid will be legalised.
Until now, vapers had to buy nicotine products from overseas. Controls for sale of the products in New Zealand will include restricting sales to over 18-year-olds and prohibiting vaping in indoor workplaces and other areas where smoking is banned under the Smoke-free Environments Act.
University of Auckland’s Professor Chris Bullen said the decision was “pragmatic” and would attempt to balance the benefits and risks to individuals and the wider population.
“Not everyone will agree with all aspects of the legislation, such as the advertising or the banning of vaping in smokefree areas. Nevertheless, it is a major step that acknowledges that using these products is far safer than smoking tobacco cigarettes.”
Massey University’s Associate Professor Marewa Glover said there was “unfortunate confusion” with banning vaping wherever smoking was banned. “Which sends a mixed message that vaping must be similarly dangerous, which it is not.”
University of Otago professor Janet Hoek – co-director of ASPIRE 2025 – was concerned that e-cigarettes would be so widely available in dairies, service stations and supermarkets.
“Smokers would seem more likely to switch from smoking to vaping, if they get expert advice, and it is not clear how dairies, supermarkets or service stations are set up to provide such advice.”
Professor Tony Blakely, from the University of Otago, praised the Government’s “cautious approach to applying the same restrictions to the sale and marketing of e-cigarettes as currently apply for tobacco”.
There was still uncertainty about long-term use and more research and monitoring was required, especially around how smokers use vaping to quit tobacco and what chemicals the e-liquids contain.
Changes to the Smoke-free Environments Act will be introduced this year, and likely to come into effect in 2018, according to Minister Wagner.
The SMC gathered expert reaction on the announcement.