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Nicotine e-cigarettes to be legalised

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 28/03/2017

The sale of nicotine e-cigarettes will be legalised for people aged over 18 because "vaping" is much less harmful than smoking and helps people kick the habit, the government says.

E-cigarettes are electronic devices that mimic real cigarettes by producing a vapour from a heated liquid.

The devices and the non-nicotine liquids are legal now. The nicotine liquid isn't although it's easily available online.

"This is an opportunity to see if restricted access for e-cigarettes and e-liquid can help lower our smoking rates, reduce harm and save lives," Associate Health Minister Nicky Wagner said on Wednesday.

"The government is taking a cautious approach by aligning the regulations around vaping with those of cigarettes, this ensures cigarette smokers have access to a lower-risk alternative."

There won't be any excise duty on the devices or the liquids.

Ms Wagner says that will ensure e-cigarettes continue to be much cheaper than real ones.

They won't have to be sold in plain packets.

She'll introduce legislation later this year which will come into force early next year.

Between now and then, quality and safety standards will be developed.

The rules for all e-cigarettes, whether or not they contain nicotine, will be:

* Restricting sales to people aged 18 and over

* Prohibiting vaping in indoor workplaces and other areas where smoking is banned

* Restricting advertising to limit the attraction of e-cigarettes to non-smokers, especially children and young people.

Quitline, the government-funded agency that helps people give up smoking, strongly supports the move.

"Quitline has increasingly been contacted by people using e-cigarettes as a smoking cessation tool," said chief executive Andrew Slater.

"Having a choice of which quit smoking method to use is key for those wanting to give up... e-cigarettes are another tool in the arsenal."

Think tank The New Zealand Initiative says it's a win for smokers who have struggled to quit.

"The devil is in the policy details and it's still possible that over-regulating the product could negate all the good work done in legalising it," said policy analyst Jenesa Jeram.

"But in the meantime we should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good - overall, the government's approach is a very pragmatic one."

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