Proposed regulation to clarify allowable nicotine concentration for some vaping products

News article

12 June 2023

Manatū Hauora is asking relevant stakeholders for feedback on a proposed regulation to clarify the maximum allowable nicotine in some vaping products sold in Aotearoa.

Clarification is required because of confusion among some vaping businesses regarding the interpretation of existing regulations for vaping products that use nicotine salts. The regulation currently states that the strength of nicotine salt in a vaping substance must not exceed 50mg/mL. 

However, some businesses have interpreted the regulation as applying to the strength of the freebase nicotine in the substance, rather than the strength of the nicotine salts. If this interpretation was used, products with significantly higher levels of nicotine could continue to be sold legally in New Zealand. Higher levels of nicotine mean an increase in the risk of addiction, including for young people who have not previously smoked.

The proposed amended regulation would set the maximum allowable nicotine concentration at 28.5mg/mL in reusable vaping products that use nicotine salts. The Ministry acknowledges that its process in developing the existing maximum limit could have been clearer and this had contributed to differing interpretations. The proposal is in line with the existing regulations' intent and would bring greater clarity for industry to ensure they are selling products that do not exceed the legal nicotine limit.

The proposed clarification is also consistent with a wider set of policies, announced earlier this month, aimed at better balancing the aims of preventing the uptake of vaping among young people and supporting people who smoke to switch to a less harmful product.   

The change would only apply to reusable vaping products that use nicotine salts. Vaping products that do not use nicotine salts already have a lower nicotine limit and a separate policy, also announced earlier this month, will also reduce the nicotine concentration for single-use (disposable) vaping products.

Once the regulations have been clarified we will continue to work with industry to ensure products for sale do not exceed the legal limits.

If approved, this regulation is expected to be made in August 2023 and introduced alongside other regulations aimed at reaching the Smokefree 2025 goal and addressing youth vaping rates.

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