Following regulatory action by the Vaping Regulatory Authority, non-compliant vaping product notifications are being withdrawn by product notifiers, meaning those products can no longer be legally sold in New Zealand until they are compliant and have been re-notified with the correct information.
In November, the Authority wrote to 60 companies about 2,149 vaping products that had been notified for sale in New Zealand, where further evidence was required to confirm they complied with the law.
These companies were given until 12 noon Friday 9 December to provide information demonstrating their vaping products were compliant with current regulations.
As of 13 December, 54 companies had responded to this request, and 472 notifications had been withdrawn. The Authority is currently assessing the information provided for a further 1,083 products to ensure they comply with the relevant product safety requirements.
Ten of the companies that responded to the request for information have been given an extension to 20 December to provide clarifications. Those companies that have not responded are being contacted individually to ensure they provide the required information about their products. Failure to provide the required information by the deadline without a reasonable excuse is an offence, and notifiers may face prosecution if they don’t respond.
Companies were required to provide product safety information following a review of the 8,083 vaping substances able to be sold in New Zealand. The review focused on whether the products included prohibited ingredients or levels of nicotine or nicotine salts that exceed the legal limits.
The review found no issues with the majority of vaping products, but the Authority will continue to monitor the vaping market and work with the vaping sector to ensure all products available in New Zealand are compliant.
The Authority is committed to supporting the public and the vaping industry to minimise the harm caused by vaping products, while recognising that these products can be a valuable tool to help people to quit smoking. This commitment includes ongoing efforts to raise awareness on the regulatory requirements as well as taking enforcement action where this is needed.
Each of the 60 companies responsible for the 2,149 products has been asked to provide:
- a full list of ingredients for the product, including the volume or weight of each
- an image or photograph of the product’s labelling, including the ingredient lists
- details of the actions and assessments they undertook to satisfy themselves that the product was safe prior to notifying it for sale in New Zealand.
All vaping products on sale in New Zealand must be notified to the Authority. The notifications system automatically flags notifications that include prohibited chemicals for review and does not allow notifiers to declare nicotine levels above the permitted maximums. Under the regulations, products are not assessed or tested separately by the Authority when they are notified. Vaping notifiers are responsible for ensuring that their products are safe, that they comply with the product safety requirements, and that information they provide in their notifications about their products is accurate.
Recently, the Authority has taken several actions to support compliance in vaping regulation following concerns that some businesses may have misunderstood the legally permitted levels of nicotine salts in vaping products, meaning that some products for sale could exceed these legal limits.
At this stage, there is no evidence that vaping products being sold in New Zealand have levels of nicotine high enough to significantly increase the risk of harm. The main risk with vaping products with levels of nicotine beyond the permitted level in New Zealand is that they may increase a person’s nicotine addiction.
Vaping products are regulated under the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990 (the Act), with specific vaping regulation introduced in November 2020 setting a number of limits and requirements for all vaping products being sold in New Zealand.
All vaping products for sale in New Zealand must be notified through the Authority’s Health Advisory and Regulatory Platform (HARP) database. Products that are not notified, or notified incorrectly, cannot be legally sold in New Zealand. The Notified Products register is available at Notified Products Register – Health Advisory and Regulatory Platform.
One of these requirements when notifying is that vaping liquid for sale in New Zealand must not exceed a freebase nicotine concentration of 20mg/mL or a nicotine salt concentration of 50mg/mL. These two separate limits reflect that some vaping substances use nicotine derived by tobacco by itself, as a freebase, while others mix the nicotine with an acid, such as benzoic acid, creating a salt.