Sale of smoking and vaping products to minors

Tobacco products and notifiable products (vaping products, smokeless tobacco products, and herbal smoking products) are not allowed to be sold to anyone under 18 years (minors).

This means:

  • Tobacco products and notifiable products, must not be sold to people under the age of 18 years
  • An employer may also be liable for any breach by their employees or agents, regardless of the breach being carried out with the employer’s knowledge or approval.
  • Tobacco products or notifiable products sold to someone over 18 must not be delivered, or arranged for delivery, to someone under 18 years.
  • Tobacco products or notifiable products must not be supplied in a public place, directly or indirectly, to anyone under 18.

Not complying with these restrictions may result in a fine, conviction or the removal of your ability to sell products for a period of up to 3 months.

Specialist vape retail stores are Restricted 18 areas

For specialist vape retailers there is an additional requirement to take all practicable steps to prevent anyone under the age of 18 years from entering their approved vaping premises.

Some examples of all practicable steps:

  • Clear, identifiable process and arrangements for points of entry (e.g, a controlled door release) to allow for checking for a person’s age
  • Meeting people and customers at the door - a staff member is present to check the age of customers before they enter the premises
  • Signage outside the retail premises that indicates under 18s are not permitted to enter.

There are no restrictions on under 18s entering general retail stores, these include dairies, supermarkets and gas stations that only sell mint, menthol and tobacco flavours. These retailers must not sell tobacco products or notifiable products to anyone under 18 years.

Guidance for internet sales to under 18s

As a retailer with an internet site that sells tobacco products or notifiable products (vaping products, smokeless tobacco products, and herbal smoking products) it is your responsibility to meet your legal obligations under the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act (the Act). It is an offence under the Act to sell and/or supply products to minors. This guidance is provided to assist you in meeting your obligations.

In accordance with Section 40(1) of the Act a person must not sell or have delivered a tobacco product or notifiable product to a person younger than 18 years.

Not complying with these restrictions may result in a fine of up to $10,000 and repeated offenders may be convicted.

The Ministry of Health monitors internet sites for compliance and encourages the use of the following measures to reduce the potential of selling to minors:

1. Warning of R18+ entry into internet sites

Age verification to enter an internet site should confirm if the customer is over 18 years old.

A tick box or statement from the customer that simply agrees that the customer is 18 years of age or older is not sufficient and cannot be used as a defence under section 40 of the Act.

2. Proof of age

Photographic identification should be required and checked to confirm a customer's age. This may be identification such as a NZ drivers licence, NZ Passport or 18 + (Kiwi Access) card uploaded to the internet site. Internet sites may also offer customer accounts that can hold age verification information for returning customers.

3. Correct identification of customer

Sufficient checks or systems that ensure the order name, the shipping name and the name on the purchasing card matches. It is not recommended that internet sites accept ‘Prezzy’ cards or gift cards that do not require a name on the purchasing card.

4 Appropriate Delivery methods

Delivery of any regulated product should include identifying the correct person (the customer) and age verification of that customer. It is important for every internet site retailer to have a robust policy and assurances with any internal or external delivery services relied on to deliver regulated products.

Note: If you are a retailer and want to sell a full range of vaping products online, you must already have an approved vaping premises (i.e., a physical store) before you apply for an Approved Internet Site (AIS). It is an offence to sell flavoured vaping products online without an approval.

Ensuring there are no sales of regulated products to minors is just one of the obligations retailers must meet under the Act. You can find further information about how you can comply with the Act on the Ministry of Health website:

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