Vapers in New Zealand have cause to celebrate. Associate Health Minister Nicky Wagner recently announced that New Zealand will legalize the use of e-cigarettes and other vaping devices as part of a larger initiative to help the country’s residents quit smoking. The move will help to clarify the country’s position on the sale of e-cigarettes and make it possible for vape shops to enter the mainstream local marketplace.
New Zealand Legalizes Vaping for Goal of a Smoke Free Country
Technically, New Zealand has prohibited the sale and use of e-cigarettes which contain nicotine for some time. The law, however, has been difficult to enforce. Residents of the country were still able to purchase devices online and have them shipped into the country. Under the existing law this was not illegal.
Many stores in New Zealand have been selling e-cigarettes and e-liquid even though doing so is illegal. There have been no arrests or prosecutions of retailers that choose to do so, but the restriction has deterred the opening of full-scale vaping shops which would cater to those who prefer e-cigarettes.
As the cost of tobacco cigarettes has significantly increased over recent years in New Zealand, some Kiwis have turned to vaping as a more affordable alternative. It appears that New Zealand lawmakers are now willing to embrace vaping as a tool to accomplish the goal of making their country smoke-free by 2025.
Strong Implications From Vaping Legislation
In a press conference to announce the legalization of e-cigarettes in New Zealand, Minister Wagner referenced studies that support vaping as safer than using tobacco cigarettes. In particular, Wagner stated that “what we’re thinking is that [e-cigarettes] are about 95 per cent less harmful than cigarettes.” This statistic is precisely what researchers at University College London claimed in the results of a long-term study released earlier this year.
The most interesting aspect of legalizing vaping in New Zealand is that Wagner and other health officials acknowledge the measure as part of a plan to help Kiwis stop smoking. Currently, more than one-half million residents of New Zealand smoke on a daily basis. That is about 15 percent of the adult population.
New Zealand has long considered smoking a public health crisis. Statistics show that an average of 13 people in the country die every day from smoking-related illnesses. This approximates to about 5,000 per year. In response, public health officials worked with the government to create an initiative with a goal of making New Zealand smoke-free by 2025.
With Wagner’s sweeping endorsement of vaping as a safer alternative, New Zealand has essentially stated that they are hopeful legalized vaping will help the country accomplish its goal. This means that New Zealand could be the first country to openly embrace the strong possibility that vaping can be efficacious in helping people quit smoking.
Specifics of New Zealand’s Vaping Law
The legalization of e-cigarettes in New Zealand is on track to be fully implemented by 2018. The law comes with a specific set of regulatory provisions which include:
- No sales to those under the age of 18
- Prohibitions of vaping in areas which already prohibit smoking as part of New Zealand’s Smoke-free Environments Act
- Advertising restrictions that would prevent targeted sales to underage consumers
The hefty excise tax that New Zealand places on tobacco cigarettes, however, would not be applied to vaping devices and e-liquid. Tobacco cigarettes in the country currently cost more than $20 per pack with higher taxes expected to push the cost as high as $30 over the next four years. Comparatively, Kiwis can purchase an e-cigarette starter kit for about $40 and order e-liquid online for around $10NZ.
Vaping legalization in New Zealand could eventually be regarded as a bellwether for the entire vaping industry. The true importance of the measure is not that it will permit the sale of e-cigarettes with nicotine, but rather its reflection that some public health officials are becoming more willing to explore the benefits of vaping. One can only hope that other countries will follow New Zealand’s lead.