The "wild west" vaping industry has three months to get its house in order after a new law banning advertising and restricting flavours has finally passed under urgency.

It's taken 620 days to get the law over the line after Associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa promised to regulate the industry in November 2018.

It wasn't until this year she introduced the bill, which was voted through the House late last night - just before the final sitting day in this term of government.

Salesa blamed the delays on it being a "complex bill", and said it was the most significant change to the Smokefree Act.

The "wild west" vaping industry has been regulated under a new law just passed before the end of this Parliamentary term. Photo / RDP

"It has taken a while."

The Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Vaping Amendment Bill will come into effect in three months' time, in November.

It has broadly been welcomed but some fear it is too restrictive and could result in people using vaping as a smoking-cessation tool to turn back to cigarettes.

The new law will:

• Ban the sale of vaping products to those under the age of 18.
• Prohibit advertising the products and encouraging people to buy them in-store.
• Limit the sale of all flavours to specialist stores, including online retailers, with shops Like dairies, supermarkets and petrol stations restricted to mint, menthol and tobacco.
• Allow speciality stores to continue offering loyalty points and discounts.
• Ban vaping in cars with children.
• Enable all retailers to display products in-store.
• Provide a framework for regulations to be set where people are allowed to vape in or outside premises.
• Introduce a safety system which would allow the Ministry of Health to recall products, suspend them and issue warnings.

But while non-speciality shops will be restricted to selling just mint, menthol and tobacco flavours, there is room for the government to add more with further regulations which are easier to get through than a law.

And despite efforts from National MP Nicky Wagner, non-tobacco nicotine pouches - like the product White Fox - are now also banned.

Wagner drafted a bill to regulate the industry when National was in power but it wasn't picked up by the current government.


Before this bill was passed, she put forward three amendments to allow community groups to promote vaping products as a smoking-cessation tool, allow more retailers to sell products and permit the pouches.

She believes restricting flavours would limit how many smokers would switch to vaping, but decided it wasn't worth the fight to try to get it over the line before the House rose before the election.

Wagner said she wanted pouches included because 10,000 New Zealanders, including Defence Force personnel, used them as an alternative to smoking and the Ministry of Health advises they were significantly less harmful than smoking because they're not inhaled.

But allowing the non-tobacco nicotine pouches was strongly opposed by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

She compared the pouches to "snus", which is sold in Scandinavia, and said she didn't want to see those products sold in New Zealand.

"My view, my very strong view is that vaping legislation should not be used as a backdoor to bring in other nicotine products," Ardern told the AM show this week.


But Wagner said Ardern was mistaken about the non-tobacco nicotine pouches she wanted to get over the line.

Vaping flavours will be restricted under the new law. Photo / Michael Craig.
Vaping flavours will be restricted under the new law. Photo / Michael Craig.

All of Wagner's amendments were voted down after Salesa introduced her own amendment on Tuesday which adopted some of her ideas.

Salesa's amendment allows retailers whose business was 60 per cent vaping products to apply to the Health Ministry to be a specialised retailer and exempt some groups from a total ban on promoting vaping.

Public health professor at the University of Otago, Janet Hoek, was pleased the law will see the end of "aggressive and very widespread marketing" of vaping products to young people.

She's previously called the vaping industry a "wild west" which was making the most of its lack of regulation.

"They're clearly targeting it as a lifestyle, recreational activity and are trying to appeal to young people."


Hoek referred to vape manufacturers' sponsorship of events such as the Rhythm and Vines festival.

"It absolutely needs to stop."

Vaping retailers and manufacturers will be banned from advertising products. Photo / Facebook
Vaping retailers and manufacturers will be banned from advertising products. Photo / Facebook

Hoek hoped restricting sales to just mint, menthol and tobacco flavours at dairies, supermarkets and petrol stations would stick.

But a spokesman for the Vaping Trade Association, Jonathan Devery, said this was a mistake because smokers relied on flavours to keep them off cigarettes.

"Restricting the flavours is still a major downfall of this bill. People that vape tobacco-flavoured products very quickly go onto fruit flavours, like watermelon or boysenberry, because it helps differentiate between smoking and vaping."

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Devery said the vaping industry welcomed the regulations as it would give retailers and manufacturers clear guidance on what was allowed.


"This is very positive that we're finally getting this through after five years of jumping up and down."

He was concerned, however, that a complete ban on advertising would mean it couldn't be promoted as a smoking-cessation tool.

"Shouldn't we be encouraged to encourage smokers to make that transition?"

Devery was pleased the stores allowed to sell vape products had been slightly liberalised through the eleventh-hour amendments because there would be some parts of New Zealand without a specialist store.