Position statement on vaping

Position Statement on vaping

In 2011, the Government set a goal for Smokefree 2025. The goal aims to reduce smoking prevalence to minimal levels.

The Ministry of Health considers vaping products have the potential to make a contribution to the Smokefree 2025 goal and could disrupt the significant inequities that are present.

The potential of vaping products to help improve public health depends on the extent to which they can act as a route out of smoking for New Zealand’s 550,000 daily smokers, without providing a route into smoking for children and non-smokers.

The Ministry of Health encourages smokers who want to use vaping products to quit smoking to seek the support of local stop smoking services. Local stop smoking services provide smokers with the best chance of quitting successfully and must support smokers who want to quit with the help of vaping products.

Expert opinion is that vaping products are much less harmful than smoking tobacco but not completely harmless. A range of toxicants have been found in vapour including some cancer causing agents but, in general, at levels much lower than found in cigarette smoke or at levels that are unlikely to cause harm. Smokers switching to vaping products are highly likely to reduce the risks to their health and those around them.

When used as intended, vaping products pose no risk of nicotine poisoning to users, but vaping liquids should be in child resistant packaging. Vaping products release negligible levels of nicotine and other toxicants into ambient air with no identified health risks to bystanders.

Currently there are no mandatory product safety requirements specifically for vaping products in New Zealand, however generic product safety standards apply.

The Ministry of Health will continue to monitor the uptake of vaping products, their health impact at individual and population levels, including long term effects and their effectiveness for smoking cessation as products, evidence and technologies develop.

The Ministry of Health will also continue to meet its obligations under Article 5.3 of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to protect public health policy from commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry.

Key Messages

  • The best thing smokers can do for their health is to quit smoking for good
  • Vaping products are intended for smokers only
  • The Ministry considers vaping products could disrupt inequities and contribute to Smokefree 2025
  • The evidence on vaping products indicates they carry much less risk than smoking cigarettes but are not risk free
  • Evidence is growing that vaping can help people to quit smoking
  • Stop smoking services must support smokers who choose to use vaping products to quit
  • There is no international evidence that vaping products are undermining the long-term decline in cigarette smoking among adults and youth, and may in fact be contributing to it
  • Despite some experimentation with vaping products among never smokers, vaping products are attracting very few people who have never smoked into regular vaping, including young people 
  • When used as intended, vaping products pose no risk of nicotine poisoning to users, but vaping liquids should be in child resistant packaging
  • The Ministry of Health is identifying safety standards for vaping products in New Zealand. In the meantime, vapers should buy their products from a reputable source, such as a specialist retailer.
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