Information about New Zealand’s Smokefree Environments Act and what you can do if you think it is being breached.

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Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Smoked Tobacco) Amendment Bill

This Bill was introduced on 21 June 2022 and proposes to significantly limit the number of retailers able to sell smoked tobacco products; aims to prevent young people from taking up smoking by prohibiting the sale of smoked tobacco products to anyone born on or after 1 January 2009; and aims to make smoked tobacco products less appealing and addictive.

Public submissions to the Bill are now closed and oral submissions are currently in progress (August to September 2022) before the Health Select Committee.

Find more information on submissions and the progress of this Bill here.

Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990

The Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Act 2020 commenced on 11 November 2020, amending the Smokefree Environments Act 1990 and renaming it to the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990. Changes will be phased in over a period of 15 months.

New Zealands Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act is one of the most comprehensive pieces of tobacco control legislation in the world: 

  • requiring smokefree and vapefree indoor workplaces, including restaurants and bars.
  • limiting tobacco and vaping advertising and promotion and the sponsorship of events by anyone who manufactures or sell tobacco or vapes.
  • Restricting the sale or supply of tobacco and vaping products to those over 18-years-of-age.
  • Not allowing the sale of single cigarettes and packs of fewer than 20 cigarettes.
  • Requiring the buildings and grounds of schools and early childhood centres to be smokefree and vape-free

Vaping products are also regulated through the Act with further measures being phased in over 15 months from November 2020.  

Under the act, tobacco packs must have graphic health warnings. Current health warnings include pictures of rotting teeth, feet with gangrene, and the brain of someone who has had a stroke.

Tobacco tax

Increasing the price of tobacco continues to be the single most effective tool for reducing tobacco use, within an overall comprehensive tobacco control programme.   Tobacco tax is legislated under the Customs and Excise Act.

Making a complaint

You can contact the smokefree officers at your district health board to make a complaint if you see:

  • someone smoking in an area that should be smokefree
  • tobacco or vaping promotion or advertising
  • something else you think breaches the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act.

Standardised packaging

Standardised packaging for cigarettes and tobacco was introduced into New Zealand in March 2018.

What is standardised packaging?

  • Cigarettes can only be sold in packs of either 20 or 25 sticks. Loose tobacco must be sold in pouches of 30 or 50 grams.
  • There are brand names on tobacco products, but regulations set how these look, where they are on the pack, font, size, and colours.
  • All tobacco packets must be the same dark brown/green background colour.
  • Pictures and health warnings are enlarged to cover at least 75% of the front of tobacco packs.
  • All tobacco company marketing imagery is removed.

A set of new health warning messages and images was also introduced at this time.

Why has New Zealand introduced standardised packaging?

Standardised packaging reduces the ability of the tobacco industry to market its products. Standardised packaging will reduce the appeal of smoking - especially for young people, reduce the social approval of tobacco use, and make health warnings more noticeable.

New Zealand's standardised packaging is similar to what's been in place in Australia since December 2012. Research from Australia has shown that standardised packaging reduced the appeal of smoking and of cigarettes themselves, encouraged people to stop smoking and made health warnings more prominent41 

Standardised packaging is also found in Australia, France, UK, Ireland, Hungary, Norway, with many other countries signalling their intent to make this change.

Key dates

14 March 2018: standardised packaging regulations came into force.

14 March to 6 June 2018: an extra six weeks was allowed for old stock to be distributed, and a further six weeks for that old stock to be sold. 

7 June 2018: only standardised packs are be able to be sold from this date.

Find out more

Read more information on submissions and progress of the bill at parliament.nz

Page last updated: 13 Oct 2022