The Government are looking into making the sale and supply of e-cigarettes legal.
A consultation document was released on Tuesday for the public to consider how selling e-cigarettes containing nicotine should be legalised.
Kiwis were already buying them online and importing directly for personal use, said Associate Health Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-liga, as it was not illegal to use them.
He said this would only be done “with appropriate controls”.
E-cigarettes are electrical devices that mimic smoked tobacco products but produce a vapour (rather than smoke) which the users inhale (called “vaping”).
Smokers get addicted to the nicotine, but it is the tar (and other) which kills them. E-cigarettes feed the nicotine addiction but don’t have tar etc.
The Ministry of Health says there is “emerging evidence that e‑cigarette use may substantially reduce the burden of disease caused by smoking”.
Public Health England has said they are 95% less harmful. Despite this, it has been illegal to sell nicotine for e-cigarettes in NZ, while tobacco has been legal. A preposterous situation.
The sale of e-cigarettes would be restricted to people aged 18 years and over, would prevent e-cigarettes being advertised, and ban their use in smoke-free areas, according to the proposals.
They seem reasonable restrictions to me.
Labour’s health spokesperson Annette King said the proposal was a “sensible move”.
“They will not be making them available and legal without advice, and I have said for some time that it can be another tool to help reduce consumption of tobacco.”
Smokers needed “as many tools as possible” to help them quit, along with mechanisms such as nicotine patches and gum.
“The argument has been that there will be people that would take up e-cigarettes and start smoking e-cigarettes, well I don’t know the evidence that people would actually do that.”
There have been several studies looking at this, and so far no evidence that non-smokers start using e-cigarettes. Almost all e-cigarette users are smokers trying to quit.