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Rhondda Sweetman gave us her Viewpoint tonight.


  1. Legal Status: Vaping is legal in New Zealand, and it is considered a separate activity from smoking.
  2. Age Restrictions: The legal age to purchase vaping products, including e-cigarettes and e-liquids containing nicotine, is 18 years old. It is illegal to sell these products to individuals under the age of 18.
  3. Nicotine Regulations: The sale and supply of nicotine e-liquids in New Zealand were subject to certain restrictions. Under the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990, nicotine e-liquids were classified as "regulated products" and could only be imported, sold, and supplied if they met certain requirements. The sale of nicotine e-liquids was restricted to licensed vendors and pharmacies, and a prescription from a medical practitioner was generally required to purchase nicotine e-liquids legally.
  4. Vape Product Standards: The New Zealand Ministry of Health set standards for the manufacturing and sale of vaping products, including e-cigarettes and e-liquids. These standards aimed to ensure product safety and quality control.

Research suggests that vaping may affect the way cells in the respiratory tract (nose, throat and lungs) react to germs and may increase the chance of disease and infection from bacterial and viruses, like the virus that causes COVID-19. Vaping may also make it harder to recover from infections and increase the possibility of complications. 

Effects on the body

Vapes emit an aerosol that includes at least 31 chemicals and compounds that affect different parts of the body.


  • The brain is still developing until about age 25. Using nicotine in adolescence can permanently harm the parts of the brain that control attention, learning, mood and impulse control.


  • Flavouring chemicals such as diacetyl can permanently injure the lungs.
  • Breathing in ultrafine vapor particles can cause asthma attacks, coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath.

Heavy metals in vapor can build up in the blood and organs and cause damage.

Head (eyes, nose, throat):

  • Chemicals known as volatile organic compounds, or VOCs, cause eye, nose and throat irritation, severe headaches, nausea and organ damage
  • Formaldehyde irritates the eyes, nose, throat and skin and may cause lung and throat cancer over time.

Skin and face:

  • Exploding batteries have caused serious burns and at least one death.


  • Nicotine is highly addictive. Nicotine addiction is difficult to break. It takes determination, support and time to stop vaping for good. 

Young non-smokers in NZ are taking up vaping more than ever before. 

In November 2021, research from The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation New Zealand (ARFNZ) found one-in-five teens used an e-cigarette daily, while a February 2022 survey by Action for Smokefree (ASH) estimated that 250,000 Kiwis vape.

Another national survey focused on Year 10 school students shows these increases are especially high for Māori girls. Around one in five Māori girls aged 14 to 15 reported vaping daily in 2021.
Increases in regular vaping (defined as vaping at least monthly) are also large, particularly for Māori boys (19% in 2019 to 31% in 2021) and girls (19% to 41%).

While manufacturers claim vapes are lower risk alternatives for people who smoke cigarettes, many people who vape have never smoked.

If only smokers took up vaping, we would expect to see increases in vaping to be offset by equivalent decreases in smoking. Instead, the growth in daily vaping exceeds the decline in daily smoking.

Had vapes never been introduced, many young non-smokers may not have started using any nicotine products.

What is the new Australian policy? The Australian government will ban the importation of nonprescription vaping products – including those that do not contain nicotine. Minimum quality standards for vapes will be introduced, including restricting flavours, colours and other ingredients.

Australia's crackdown includes a ban on recreational use of e-cigarettes, limiting vape flavours, bringing in "pharmaceutical-style" packaging, reducing nicotine content, banning disposable vapes, and halving imports of non-prescription e-cigarettes.

There are calls for New Zealand to follow Australia on vaping laws to combat youth 'epidemic'

Educators and public health experts want New Zealand to follow Australia's lead and ban recreational vaping to address what they describe as a growing epidemic in young people.

Some school principals here are reporting children as young as eight being caught with e-cigarettes at school, while other children struggle with addiction

Australia's crackdown includes a ban on recreational use of e-cigarettes, limiting vape flavours, bringing in "pharmaceutical-style" packaging, reducing nicotine content, banning disposable vapes, and halving imports of non-prescription e-cigarettes.

Our government has ruled out following suit - at least in this term.

Dr Anita Jagroop-Dearing, associate professor at Eastern Institute of Technology in Hawke's Bay, is researching why students vape, and how to bring rates down. She says the results of an ASH study looking at smoking and vaping rates amongst Year 10 students (aged 14 and 15) painted a worrying picture of what she considered an "epidemic". While smoking rates in that age group had dropped from just under 30 percent in 2005 to 5 percent in 2015, vaping - which is often promoted as a useful tool to help smokers quit - had increased markedly in recent years. Jagroop-Dearing said she did not think the effect of vaping on young people had been considered when it was introduced as a smoking-cessation tool. "Yes, great, we reduced the smoking rate for adults but ... the vaping rate is increasing in ... young people who never even smoked and [are] now picking up vaping," she said. "I don't think that New Zealand was prepared for just what a drastic impact this would have on our young students."

Jagroop-Dearing said research showed vaping had an effect on the developing brain and on cardiovascular and respiratory risk. "The research is out there, it's in the literature and I just feel that the government is not paying attention or listening to us or looking at the research." She said the data proved students were becoming addicted. "We see that there are behavioural issues and the prevalence data that is already out there ... I would consider this an epidemic."

After considering all the evidence, my Point of View is that we should be following Australia and restricting access to these vaping products.

Vaping - 6 June 2023

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