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Smoke-free Environments Act 1990
New Zealands Smoke-free Environments Act 1990 is one of the most comprehensive pieces of tobacco control legislation in the world:
- Requiring smokefree indoor workplaces, including restaurants and bars.
- Limiting tobacco advertising and promotion and the sponsorship of events or activities by anyone who manufactures or sells tobacco.
- Restricting the sale or supply of tobacco 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.
Under the Smoke-free Environments 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.
Vape devices and e-liquids are also regulated under the Smoke-free Environments Act 1990. It is an offence to sell nicotine vaping products to young people aged under 18. There are no legal restrictions on where people can vape. Learn more about vaping law and policy at vapingfacts.health.nz.
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 promotion or advertising
- something else you think breaches the Smoke-free Environments Act.
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 their 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 Zealands standardised packaging is similar to whats 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 prominent75.
Standardised packaging is also found in Australia, France, UK, Ireland, Hungary, Norway, with many other countries signalling their intent to make this change.
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
There is more information about the smokefree legislation on the Ministry of Health website.