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Government implements its commitment to reverse regulation of smoked tobacco products

Home Insights Government implements its commitment to reverse regulation of smoked tobacco products

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Contributed by: Craig Shrive and Angelica Sivananthan

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Published on: March 05, 2024


Last week Parliament passed the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Amendment Bill (Bill) under urgency as part of the Government's 100-Day Plan. The Bill reverses three parts of the previous Government's plan to regulate smoked tobacco: the retail reduction scheme, denicotinisation and the smokefree generation measures. It appears that it will now turn its attention to tightening vaping product laws.

Contents of the Bill

Specifically, the Bill will:

  • remove the limit on the number of retailers that can sell smoked tobacco products in New Zealand;

  • remove the requirement for smoked tobacco products to meet a low nicotine content limit of 0.8 mg/g; and

  • retain a minimum sales age of 18 years for smoked tobacco products rather than providing for a smokefree generation under which sales to anyone born on or after 1 January 2009 would have been prohibited.

In addition, the Bill will also make related technical amendments, including:

  • removing requirements for retailers of smoked tobacco products to apply to, and be approved by, the Director-General of Health before selling smoked tobacco products;

  • removing the requirement for smoked tobacco products to be approved by the Director-General of Health prior to being manufactured, imported, or offered for sale or supply, in New Zealand;

  • removing offences related to the matters above; and

  • removing provisions relating to Te Tiriti o Waitangi associated with the matters above.

The Bill is expected to receive Royal assent this week and will come into force the day after receiving Royal assent. 

Government's intention and next steps

The Coalition Government has indicated that it is still committed to the Smokefree 2025 goal but is taking a "different regulatory approach" to reducing smoking rates and the harm associated with smoking than the previous Government. The Government states it has recognised the key role vaping has played as a smoking cessation tool and is focusing on how well quit-smoking initiatives have worked in the past.
At the time of the Bill's introduction, Associate Health Minister Casey Costello highlighted a plan to present a package of measures to Cabinet that will increase the tools and resources available to assist people looking to quit smoking. The incoming package is also intended to tighten regulations on vaping to prevent young people from accessing and using vaping products.
It therefore appears likely that further amendments to vaping product laws will be made in this term of Government.

This article is intended only to provide a summary of the subject covered. It does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. No person should act in reliance on any statement contained in this publication without first obtaining specific professional advice. If you require any advice or further information on the subject matter of this newsletter, please contact the partner/solicitor in the firm who normally advises you, or alternatively contact one of the partners listed below.

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