Clouds of vapour streaming from mouths of e-cigarette users signal the changing style of smoking in New Zealand.

But while tens of thousands of Kiwis use the devices, as people seek ways to quit smoking tobacco, planned regulations around their use are still to be introduced.

Latest figures from the Health Promotion Agency's Smokefree website show smoking rates continued to fall.

About 16 percent of adults are estimated to smoke. That is down from 20 percent in 2006/07 and 26 percent in 1996/97. More adults have given up smoking than smoked, and more than 1.9 million New Zealanders have never smoked regularly.

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Nearly 80 percent of young people have never had a puff of tobacco.

Vaping – the use of a battery-operated device to heat a liquid into an aerosol that is then inhaled as mist – is a recent part of a move away from smoking.

Preliminary analysis by the Health Promotion Agency from its 2016 Health & Lifestyles Survey, showed one in six New Zealand adults had tried e-cigarettes.

Ben Pryor, who founded e-cigarette retail Vapo around three years ago, estimates there are 100,000 to 200,000 vapers around the country. "The growth we have seen has been exponential."

National had planned to change the law regulating e-cigarettes, proposing legalising the sale of nicotine products and introducing regulations such as restricting their sale to people 18 and over.
 
The sale of nicotine-based products for e-cigarettes is currently illegal in New Zealand. But the Ministry of Health confirmed there have not been any prosecutions over this.

Vapers told the Herald on Sunday that they were easily able to obtain e-liquids containing nicotine at some vape stores.

People can import up to three months' supply of nicotine-containing e-liquids for their own use, but cannot sell or supply them.

Associate Minister of Health Jenny Salesa told the Herald on Sunday: "The future of e-cigarettes and e-liquid in New Zealand is currently under consideration by the new Government."

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"This coalition government is committed to reducing tobacco availability to minimal levels, and I will continue to explore all opportunities to sharpen our focus and strengthen our tobacco control programme," Salesa said.