Supporting compliance with smokefree legislation

The Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act (known as SERPA) is the key piece of smokefree and vaping legislation in New Zealand. It has several aims:

  1. to ensure that tobacco and vape products are not marketed or sold to young people;
  2. to prevent normalising smoking and vaping behaviours – while supporting smokers to switch to regulated products;
  3. to reduce exposure to and the health effects of second-hand smoke;
  4. to limit the number of outlets where tobacco, cigarettes and vapes are available to purchase; and
  5. to set a safety limit for the amount of nicotine in tobacco and vape products.

Coalition Government introduced Smokefree Amendment Bill

Beehive media release: 27th February 2024

The Government has introduced an Amendment Bill that will repeal three parts of the previous Government’s planned changes to regulate smoked tobacco.

“The Coalition Government is committed to the Smokefree 2025 goal, but we are taking a different regulatory approach to reducing smoking rates and the harm from smoking,” Associate Health Minister Casey Costello said.

“New Zealand has seen some of the largest drops in smoking rates across the world in recent years and we want to build on the practical tools and approaches that have worked to date,” Ms Costello said.

“I will soon be taking a package of measures to cabinet to increase the tools available to help people quit smoking, while at the same time tightening regulations on vaping to prevent young people accessing vapes.

“As a first step, however, today’s Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Amendment Bill will deliver on the Government’s 100-Day commitments and repeal three parts of the last government’s Smokefree legislation: the retail reduction scheme, denicotinisation, and the smokefree generation measures.”

None of these measures are currently in place with Labour’s changes planned for later this year, 2025 and 2027.

“The last government was moving towards an untested regime that ignored how well quit smoking initiatives were working, and the potential downside of taking a prohibitionist approach for smokers, or for retailers and crime,” Ms Costello said.

“The progress New Zealand has made in reducing smoking means that those who currently smoke are mostly long-term smokers who are addicted to nicotine and that’s who we need to focus on. We want an approach that is practical and helps smokers to quit, rather than one based on ideology.”

Reducing exposure to smoke in public places

Smokefree Aotearoa New Zealand 2025.All of the following places need to be smokefree and vapefree under SERPA:

  • Workplaces including canteens and ‘smoko’ rooms;
  • Schools and early childhood centres including buildings and surrounding grounds; and
  • Internal areas of some public places including bars, restaurants, cafes, sports clubs and casinos.

Licensed premises, workplaces and schools all have a responsibility to ensure they meet the requirements of the Act.

Community and Public Health staff can support workplaces to expand or develop a smokefree policy or to help employees to quit smoking – while at work or for good. Contact your local office for more information.

Controlling the advertising and promotion of tobacco and vape products

No Smoking symbol with the words Smokefree underneath.Retailers who sell tobacco or vape products have a responsibility to ensure they meet the requirements of the Act. This means:

  • It is illegal to sell these products to anyone under the age of 18;
  • It is illegal to sell single cigarettes to anyone regardless of age – cigarettes must be sold in packs of 20 or 25 sticks;
  • It is illegal to display tobacco products in retail outlets;
  • All tobacco products must be sold in standardised packaging (also known as plain packaging); and
  • Tobacco and vape sales via the internet in NZ are also bound by the Act and must not display tobacco products or tobacco information.

Restricting tobacco and vape product advertising ensures that children and young people are not exposed to the sight of these products. This makes it easier to be smokefree and vapefree.

A 2016 survey of Christchurch dairies looked at how important selling tobacco was to these retailers. The results may surprise you!

The role of Smokefree Enforcement Officers

Smokefree Enforcement Officers work for the Ministry of Health to ensure compliance with the SERPA legislation, by:

  • visiting tobacco and vape retailers to remind them of their responsibilities and support them to maintain compliance;
  • conducting Controlled Purchase Operations with young volunteers to test retailer’s compliance;
  • visiting licensed premises to ensure their open areas (where smoking or vaping is allowed) comply with the requirements set out in the Act; and
  • responding to complaints and queries.

Contact your local Smokefree Enforcement Officer at Te Mana Ora | Community and Public Health for support to comply with the Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act.



Download or order resources from the Community Health Information Centre.


Contact your local Smokefree Enforcement Officer for further information:

Christina Lewis
Ph: +64 3 364 1777

Cameron Duff
Ph: +64 3 687 2600

Rodney Beckett
Ph: +64 3 768 1160

Let everyone know your place is smokefree

The Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products Act 1990 requires all internal areas of workplaces, licensed premises and certain public enclosed premises to be smokefree.

The Smokefree Environments and Regulated Products (Vaping) Amendment Act 2020 came into force in November 2020. It requires vaping to be prohibited in settings where smoking is also not permitted.

Signage is used to communicate expectations and help people to know they are in a smokefree and vapefree area.

Smokefree Sign - Smokefree at all Times

Page last updated: 29/02/2024

Copyright © 2024, Community & Public Health,