The Vaping Regulatory Authority has requested all vaping retailers, and importers review all their products to ensure they are complying with the law.
Vaping products are regulated under the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990 (the Act), with specific vaping regulation introduced in November 2020. These regulations are aimed at minimising the harm caused by these vaping products, while recognising that there are a significant number already being legally being sold in New Zealand that could provide a valuable tool in helping some people quit smoking, the Ministry of Health said in a statement.
Under these regulations, vaping retailers, manufacturers, and importers that notify a vaping product with the Authority are responsible for ensuring their notifications are accurate, and that their products comply with the product safety requirements set out in the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Regulations 2021 (the Regulations). Products that are not notified, or notified incorrectly, cannot be legally sold in New Zealand.
One of these requirements when notifying is that vaping substances for sale in New Zealand cannot exceed concentrations of 20mg/mL for freebase nicotine or 50mg/mL for nicotine salts. These two separate limits reflect that some vaping substances use nicotine derived by tobacco by itself, as a freebase, while others mix the nicotine with an acid, such as benzoic acid, creating a salt.
Recently, the authority has had reports that some vaping substances for sale in New Zealand may not be complying with some of these regulations, specifically the limit on nicotine salts, and some vaping retailers, manufacturers or importers may have misinterpreted the regulations limiting nicotine salt levels and provided misleading information when notifying their products with the Authority.
The main risk with levels of nicotine beyond the permitted level in New Zealand is a vaping product will be more likely to continue a person’s addiction long-term.
The Ministry has received a representation from Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) also asking for the Ministry to review the current limits on nicotine salts to ensure that smokers are not discouraged to switch to vaping if the nicotine levels are not comparable with smoking tobacco.
The Ministry has responded saying that it will promptly consider the issue raised by ASH though the current regulations should guide retailers and others in the industry at this stage.