Vaping information for distributors and retailers

Adverse reactions

Any retailer who becomes aware that someone has experienced an adverse reaction to a vaping product should report it to their supplier and the New Zealand Pharmacovigilance Centre as soon as possible. This will help the Vaping Regulatory Authority monitor the safety of notifiable products for sale in New Zealand.

Prohibition on sale to minors

From 11 November 2020, the existing prohibitions on the sale of tobacco products and herbal smoking products to minors are extended to vaping products.

This means:

  • vaping products, including ‘toy’ products, must not be sold to people under the age of 18 years
  • vaping products sold to someone over 18 must not be delivered, or arranged for delivery, to someone aged under 18
  • vaping products must not be supplied, directly or indirectly, to anyone under 18 in a public place.

An employer may be liable for any breach in addition to their employees or agents, whether or not the breach was carried out with the employer’s knowledge or approval.

In addition to any fine, a person who is convicted of selling or delivering a tobacco product, herbal smoking product or vaping product to a person under 18 at least twice within a two-year period may be prohibited from selling such products for a period of up to 3 months.

Specialist vape retailers must take all practicable steps to prevent minors from entering their approved vaping premises. However, there is no restriction on under-18s from entering general retailers’ premises or visiting websites where vaping products are sold.

Oral communications with customers

From 11 November 2020, general retailers inside their retail premises are prohibited from discussions with customers that encourage the use, promote the sale, or notify the availability of vaping products.

This does not prevent general retailers from:

  • identifying products that are available for purchase and their prices
  • encouraging smokers to switch to less harmful products

However, a specialist vape retailer who is inside their approved vaping premises may talk to customers about vaping products and provide guidance on the safe use of products, provided they comply with any regulations that may be made.

Prohibition on sale of products for oral use

From 11 November 2020, the existing prohibitions on describing tobacco products as suitable for chewing or other similar oral use are extended to all regulated products, including vaping products. This means that vaping products must not be advertised, labelled or otherwise described as suitable for chewing or other similar oral use.

From 11 November 2020, any products where nicotine is absorbed primarily through the oral mucosa by chewing or similar oral use must not be imported for sale, sold, packaged or distributed in New Zealand. This prohibition does not apply to products that have been given consent or provisional consent as a medicine under the Medicines Act 1981.

Display of vaping products

Display within the premises

General retailers may display vaping products anywhere within their premises.

Automatic vending machines

From 11 November 2020, automatic vending machines selling vaping products must not be located in a publicly accessible area, unless products can only be sold when activated by a responsible person who can see the product purchaser.

Health information and warning signs

Requirements to display health information or warnings and/or purchase age information for vaping products may be set out in regulations. This may in due course require retailers to display signage or information in their premises, on any automatic vending machines and/or their websites.

Public consultation on an initial set of regulations is expected to take place by early 2021.

Notified products

From 11 February 2022, all vaping and smokeless tobacco products (notifiable products) must be notified before they can be sold in New Zealand.

This means retailers are prohibited from selling vaping products or smokeless tobacco products that:

  • do not have a current notification, unless it has been less than 3 months since the notification expired and there are no current safety concerns with the product
  • do not comply with any product safety requirements set in regulations
  • have been subject to a product recall.

A searchable database will be available by August 2021 so retailers can find out which notifiable products are currently notified.

Prohibition on display of certain trading names

From 11 November 2020, a general retailer must not display its name or trade name on the outside of its place of business (whether that is a physical store or a website) if the name:

  • signifies that vaping products can be purchased
  • is a trademark of a vaping product
  • is the name of a manufacturer or importer of a vaping product.

Enforcement officers

The Director-General of Health must appoint Enforcement Officers that have the power to:

  • enter and inspect any retail premises or other place where regulated activities relating to vaping products are carried out, or are reasonably thought to be carried out
  • inspect any vaping products for sale at that place
  • take photographs, videos or other recordings
  • take air samples
  • inspect advertising or display material
  • require identifying information from a person they believe has sold, delivered, or arranged delivery of a vaping product to a person under the age of 18.

Enforcement Officers will carry documentation to verify their identify.

An Enforcement Officer is not permitted to enter private houses or accommodation unless they have the consent of the occupier, a search warrant, or they have a power of entry under other legislation.

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