E-cigarettes to be banned from NZ bars, restaurants and offices in new vaping laws

New laws proposed in New Zealand would see vaping products more heavily regulated and banned from bars and restaurants.

NZ is moving to treat vaping like tobacco products.

NZ is moving to treat vaping like tobacco products. Source: SBS News

New Zealand lawmakers have announced strict new vaping rules that would see e-cigarettes treated more like tobacco products.

The country's government has proposed legal changes that would see vaping devices and smokeless tobacco products join cigarettes in being banned from bars, restaurants and workplaces, as well introducing restrictions on how they can be displayed in stores.

Announcing the plan on Friday, associate Health Minister Jenny Salesa said the introduction of new safety standards would also give assurance to those trying to quit smoking using the devices, while keeping them away from youths who don't smoke.

"Vaping is a significantly less harmful alternative to smoking and it has been used as an effective tool to quit smoking," she said.

"However, it is not completely risk free and that's why we need to make it as safe as possible and protect young people from taking it up."

The changes will be consulted on next year, but some are unconvinced.

Maori public health organisation Hapai Te Hauora said it was concerned the law would make it harder for those trying to quit smoking to get hold of the devices.

"I'm concerned that these regulations will limit smokers' access to vapes and fruity flavours which research and communities tell us are an appealing draw card towards vapes when transitioning from cigarettes," tobacco control general manager Mihi Blair said.

"It would be great if nobody ever smoked anything again, but this is the real world we live in."

New Zealand's government has an aim of getting the smoking rate below 5 per cent of the population by 2025, from 13.8 per cent last year.

While there's general consensus vaping is less harmful than smoking, its not entirely harmless and the long-term health risks remain poorly understood. Research is also still emerging about how well the devices decrease rates of smoking.

Their legal status and use as a cessation tool has been a contentious issues in countries around the world.

E-cigarettes that contain liquid nicotine are banned in Australia, while NSW this year introduced a ban on public vaping.

Published 24 November 2018 at 12:50pm, updated 24 November 2018 at 1:09pm