Tobacco standardised packaging

This page summarises the regulatory changes that will take effect from March 2018 and links to relevant documents.

The introduction of Tobacco Standardised Packaging is part of the Government’s comprehensive tobacco control programme.

What is happening?

The tobacco standardised packaging regime comes into force on 14 March 2018; in addition an extra six weeks is allowed for old stock to be distributed and a further six weeks for that old stock to be sold.  So after 6 June 2018 only standardised packs will be able to be sold. 

What is in the regulations?

New Zealand tobacco packets will be the same standard dark brown/green background colour as Australia, United Kingdom, Ireland and France. 

New pictures and health warnings will be enlarged to cover at least 75% of the front of tobacco packs, and all tobacco company marketing imagery will be removed. 

Tobacco manufacturers will be allowed to print a brand name and variant on their tobacco products, but the regulations standardise how these look, including where they must be on the pack, what type face and font size and colour must be used.

Cigarettes will only be sold in packs of either 20 or 25 sticks, in standard cardboard packs and loose tobacco in pouches of 30 or 50 grams in standard rectangular soft plastic pouches. 

The regime is similar to that in place in Australia.

View the regulations on the New Zealand Legislation website:

Graphic images and warning messages

Image showing an example of plain packaging. In large font, the front of the package reads 'Smoking causes lung cancer'. It features a photo of a pair of damaged lungs clamped open. Under the image, in a smaller font, goes the brand name and variant. The number of cigarettes in the package goes in a small font in the corner. A more detailed warning is on the side of the package.A new set of 14 health warning messages and images have been prepared and will feature on the new tobacco packs. Seven of these images will rotated each year:

The timeline to standardised packaging

The Smoke-free Environments (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Amendment Bill had its first reading on 11 February 2014. See statement from Hon Tariana Turia on Beehive website.

It follows a decision in April 2012 by the Government to agree in principle to introduce a plain packaging regime in alignment with Australia pending the outcome of a public consultation process (published online: 23 July 2012). The public consultation closed on 5 October 2012 and Cabinet considered a report on the consultation on 18 February 2013. The Government decided to proceed with legislation (see statement on Beehive website). The resultant bill was lodged in December 2013 (see statement on Beehive website).

Background documents

Standardised Packaging of Tobacco Products

Tobacco Plain Packaging: Approval for drafting

Smoke-free Environments (Tobacco Plain Packaging) Amendment Bill: Approval for introduction

Information that is not related to plain packaging has been removed from these documents.

Some information has been withheld under Official Information Act provisions. Where this has occurred it is noted in the papers next to the redaction.

In this section

  • The 14 graphic pictorial health warnings, comprising graphic images and explanatory messages, cover the front and back of the cigarette packets. Read more
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