Vaping Amendment Regulations Update August 2023
On 24 August 2023, the Ministry of Health announced an array of new vaping regulations under the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Amendment Regulations 2023 to help reduce youth vaping rates. These are set to come into effect on 21 September with 3-6 month transitional periods to allow time for New Zealand retailers, suppliers, distributors and manufacturers to comply.
Since the announcement of these regulations, we’ve noticed some uncertainty from our customers regarding the future availability of their favourite vape products. We’d like to take the chance to clarify the specifics of these regulations, and what they will mean for you as a consumer both during and after the transitional periods.
Summary of Regulations:
- A single-use vaping device is a device that is pre-filled with a vaping substance and designed only to be used once. A single-use vape device cannot be refilled once it has run out of e-liquid.
- A pre-filled pod device or closed pod system is classed as a reusable device.
- Up to 2 flavour naming descriptors (from a specified list of 57) may be used when naming vaping product flavours
- All vape devices (both single-use and reusable) must be fitted with a battery that can be easily removed, inspected and replaced without damaging the battery or the device. The device itself does not qualify as a battery.
- All vaping devices (both single-use and reusable) must include a child safety mechanism as well as a 10-minute auto-lock function.
- All products containing nicotine must comply with new nicotine limits; salt nicotine E-liquids intended for use in a reusable device will be capped at 28.5mg/mL while all other products will be capped at 20mg/mL (freebase nicotine e-liquids, single-use pods & devices etc.)
As a consumer, there are two key dates to be aware of; 21 December 2023, and 21 March 2024.
21 December 2023: Single-use Products
From this date, disposable or single-use vape devices as we have come to know them will no longer be available for sale in New Zealand. While this will not be the end of single-use vape devices entirely; beyond this date, all of these products will be required to comply with the strict product safety requirements mentioned above.
The most significant change to this product category will be the notable reduction in the allowed level of total nicotine salt in a substance; decreasing from 50mg/mL currently, to 35mg/mL (or 20mg/mL pure nicotine concentration).
If you are planning on stocking up on your favourite high-strength single-use products before these regulations come into effect, we recommend doing so in advance as we expect to see popular product lines become increasingly unavailable as we near the cut-off date.
21 March 2024: Reusable Products
21 March will see the roll-out of the final group of regulations, focusing on the reusable product category. From this date, all reusable vape devices, as well as freebase and salt nicotine e-liquids intended for use in reusable devices, will be required to comply with the above-stated product safety requirements.
At the time of writing this article, there are currently no vaping devices available in New Zealand that meet all of the required product safety measures. This means, over the next six months, brands such as UWELL, Vaporesso & Geekvape will need to custom-manufacture reusable vape devices for the New Zealand market. While this is undoubtedly a large undertaking for manufacturers; we’re confident that there will be a wide selection of new, and fully compliant products available for vapers to choose from come March 21.
During the transitional period, in the lead-up to March 21, some product lines may become temporarily unavailable, but rest assured, many of these will return! Our knowledgeable sales team are more than happy to help you find the perfect temporary alternative, should any of your go-to products become unavailable during this time.
Clarification on the new nicotine limits:
With these Amendment Regulations, the Ministry of Health has redefined the maximum limit for salt nicotine. Previously it was stated, “The strength of nicotine salt in a vaping substance must not exceed 50mg/mL.” Unfortunately, this statement was open to misinterpretation, and ultimately caused quite a bit of confusion amongst Importers and Manufacturers.
To avoid any further confusion, the Ministry of Health has amended the wording to: “For a vaping substance that contains nicotine only in a salt form and is intended for use in a reusable vaping device, the concentration of nicotine must not exceed 28.5mg/mL.”.
What does this mean?
Up until this point in time, there have been two common processes for producing nicotine salt;
While both processes are technically correct and widely used by regulators in other jurisdictions, the latest regulations seek to standardise a single process (Process One) for clarity and consistency in New Zealand.
The redefined nicotine limit of 28.5mg/mL in salt nicotine substances, intended for use in reusable vaping devices, refers to the maximum permitted concentration of freebase/nicotine, not the total concentration of nicotine salt. So essentially, 28.5mg/mL of nicotine = 50mg/mL of salt nicotine.
All other vaping substances (including those used in single-use products) will have a nicotine limit of 20mg/mL, or 35mg/mL total nicotine salt concentration.
Fortunately, a majority of products sold within the New Zealand market already comply with the newly redefined nicotine limits. As a consumer, you will likely notice very little change in regard to this specific product safety requirement.
To learn more about the key differences between freebase and salt nicotine, click here.
Clarification on the flavour naming restrictions:
The Ministry has provided a very specific list of 57 approved flavour names/descriptors. A product’s flavour name may contain up to 2 of these approved descriptors.
These restrictions have been introduced to limit the appeal of vaping products to young people, as e-liquids with names such as ‘Strawberry Jam Donut’ or ‘Gummy Bears’ are viewed to be enticing to a younger audience.
While many popular and commonly-known flavours such as Mango, Strawberry, Grape, Vanilla and Mint have been included in this list, there are a number of beloved flavours that have not; including Aloe Vera, Cola and Blackcurrant.
It is important to keep in mind that these restrictions are focused solely on the naming of vaping substances, and will not impact the flavour of the product itself. If your favourite e-liquid flavour is not named on this list, there’s no need to panic, as it will still be available for purchase under a new flavour name.
As an example, a product like Vapetasia’s Royalty II could potentially be renamed to Vapetasia - Tobacco Hazlenut, or Vapetasia - Tobacco Vanilla.
Clarification on single-use & reusable vaping devices:
A single-use device is classed as a device that is pre-filled with a vaping substance and designed only to be used once. A single-use device cannot be refilled once it has run out of e-liquid.
A reusable device requires the user to manually fill the pod with e-liquid and can be refilled once the device has run out of e-liquid.
At this stage, our understanding is that a pre-filled or closed-pod vape device qualifies as a ‘reusable device’; as replacing a pre-filled pod or cartridge is viewed as ‘refilling’.
All New Zealand vaping devices have to comply with product safety requirements on the dates mentioned previously, and will need to include the following;
- A battery that can be easily removed, inspected and replaced without damaging the battery or the device, using no more than a screwdriver. The device itself does not qualify as a battery.
- A child safety mechanism, or combination of mechanisms, that requires at least 2 simultaneous or 5 sequential operations before the device can be used for vaping.
- An automatic lock feature that activates after no more than 10 minutes of inactivity.
What does this mean?
There are no implications if your current device does not meet the new product safety requirements - this will only impact vape devices sold from 21 March 2024.
Replacement pods and coils for popular, non-compliant devices will remain readily available for customers following the 21 March deadline. This means anyone who has a non-compliant vaping device will be able to maintain their device for some time after this deadline.
Although the recent amendments may appear to bring substantial changes to the vaping sector, our hope is that this article has reassured vapers with the key information they need to navigate the transitional period over the next 3-6 months.
If you have any concerns or questions regarding the latest regulation updates, or how they may impact your favourite vaping products, please feel free to get in contact; our knowledgeable team is kept up-to-date with the latest product and legislative information for any of your vape-related queries!
Please note: This is a summary of the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Amendment Regulations 2023 as we currently understand it. There are some aspects of these regulations that may require further clarity - we will update and amend this article with more information as it becomes available.