The New Zealand government is set to ban vaping in bars, restaurants, schools and workplaces.

The move would see e-cigarettes treated more like traditional tobacco products, with similar restrictions on advertising.

Associate minister of health Jenny Salesa said that the government intends to encourage smokers to switch while ensuring that youths do not access vaping products.

Ms Salesa said:

“Vaping is a significantly less harmful alternative to smoking and it has been used as an effective tool to quit smoking.

“However, it is not completely risk free and that’s why we need to make it as safe as possible and protect young people from taking it up.”

The government hopes to bring the smoking rate down from 13.8 percent in 2017 to below five percent by 2025. Critics fear that the new restrictions will be an obstacle on the path to achieving this goal.

Hapai Te Hauora tobacco control manager Mihi Blair, said:

“I’m concerned that these regulations will limit smokers’ access to vapes and fruity flavours which research and communities tell us are an appealing draw card towards vapes when transitioning from cigarettes.

“It would be great if nobody ever smoked anything again, but this is the real world we live in.”

The government will consult the public before the new plan is put in place.

The plan would:

– Continue to make vaping products available for adults who smoke, whilst protecting those who don’t smoke, especially young people

– Clarify that nicotine vaping liquid is covered by the Smokefree Environments Act, and extends coverage to include nicotine-free vaping liquid, and vaping and smokeless tobacco product devices and components

– Enable product safety requirements to be set for vaping and smokeless tobacco products

– Implement a product notification system to support action when concerns arise with a product

– Make clear where you can and cannot vape, for example not being allowed to vape at schools and other indoor workplaces, such as bars, cafes and restaurants

– Allow vaping in specialist R18 retail outlets