Updated 27 December 2007 Printer friendly version www.endsmoking.org.nz/nicregsJul07.pdf

Nicotine regulations

 Medicinal nicotine.

Nicotine sold as a medicine,that is making claims to relieve symptoms or prevent disease, comes under the Medicines Act, which places restrictions on its availability. Very strict requirements are placed on safety and efficacy before nicotine products are accepted as medicines. Nicotine sold as nicotine replacement can be sold by doctor’s prescription (nasal spray), by pharmacy only (inhaler), or by sale in any shop (patch, gum or lozenge).


Non-medicinal (lifestyle, recreational) nicotine

Sold without making any such medicinal claims, nicotine can no longer be sold as a diet supplement. Nicotine cannot be sold under the Fair Trading Act, which merely requires the product is safe and makes no false claims, because Medsafe has ruled that as nicotine has a physiological effect, it is a medicine under the purview of the Medicines Act. As of December 2007, no recreational nicotine products or nicotine-containing non-medicinal cigarette substitutes were available on the New Zealand market. New products would have to become medicines, delaying market entry.


We propose non-medicinal nicotine be brought under the purview of the Smoke-free Environments Act.

Nicotine by itself does not incur the health risks of smoking, apart from addiction, and therefore it should continue to enjoy exemption from tobacco taxation.

Smokers don’t want to go to a white coat pharmacist or doctor to “enjoy” nicotine without the smoke.

Non-medicinal nicotine can theoretically avoid the high mark-ups applied to medicinal nicotine, and thus provide a more affordable way for smokers to obtain nicotine when they quit smoking, and for as long after as they wished.


No-one would wish nicotine addiction to become widespread among young people. On the other hand, addiction to nicotine is far less dangerous than addiction to smoking cigarettes. The cure for that problem is to end cigarette sales. Minimal regulation of nicotine may however, be useful. We propose that non-medicinal nicotine should:

        Not be sold to those under 18 years of age.

        Not be advertised except as a less dangerous or less costly alternative to cigarettes; or as satisfying to smokers (if this is true), or as an aid to quitting.

        Carry a warning label to warn of the risk of addiction.

        Packaging and instructions should be aimed to minimize the risk of over-dose and under-dose.


SmokeLess New Zealand proposes that Government amend the Smoke-free Environments Act 2004 and the Smokefree Environments Regulations 1999 to require all packets of non-medicinal nicotine to carry this warning:

Nicotine is addictive. It does not carry the other risks of cigarette smoking.


 Dr Murray Laugesen QSO chair; Prof Ross McCormick, Sir John Scott KBE, Trish Fraser MPH, Dr Marewa Glover, Trustees

Making it easier to quit smoking for good 2009 End Smoking NZ