23rd February 2018, Volume 131 Number 1470

Sarah Merry, Christopher Bullen

Electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes) are a global phenomenon. These diverse devices have surged in popularity since their introduction to the market just over a decade ago.1,2 E-cigarettes have, however, been subject…

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This study summarises current research on the use of e-cigarettes in New Zealand. The study found that the number of people who have ever used an e-cigarette has increased over time. However, the number of New Zealanders who regularly use e-cigarettes remains low. Most people who use e-cigarettes are smokers or ex-smokers. While people commonly first try an e-cigarette because they are curious, many hope to reduce the number of tobacco cigarettes they smoke, or quit smoking. Further research is needed to monitor the use of e-cigarettes in New Zealand and any impact this may have on smoking rates.



This study aimed to systematically review the literature on e-cigarette use in New Zealand, focusing on prevalence, rationale for use, perceptions and exposure to the devices.


Six databases were systematically searched for articles regarding e-cigarette use in New Zealand, supplemented with a grey literature search. Seven hundred and eighteen abstracts were identified and full text of 100 articles reviewed. Studies addressing prevalence of and rationale for use, perceptions of and exposure to e-cigarettes were included. Relevant data were synthesised in a narrative summary.


Fourteen studies addressed aspects of e-cigarette use in New Zealand, published between 2010 and 2017. Ever-use of e-cigarettes among adults and adolescents has increased, although current use remains low. Smoking strongly predicts use, and ever-use may decrease with age. Investigation of other predictors has been hindered by low prevalence and small samples. While curiosity is commonly cited for sampling e-cigarettes, many smokers are drawn by harm reduction or cessation. More complex motivators are becoming evident. Although exposure to e-cigarettes is common, many remain uncertain about their harm relative to tobacco.


While the available evidence provides an overview of current use, exposure and acceptance of e-cigarettes in New Zealand, it highlights knowledge deficits and informs future monitoring.

Author Information

Sarah Merry, Public Health Medicine Registrar, Auckland; Christopher R Bullen, Professor and Director, National Institute for Health Innovation, School of Population Health, University of Auckland, Auckland.


Professor Chris Bullen, National Institute for Health Innovation, School of Population Health, University of Auckland, Private Bag 92019, Auckland.

Correspondence Email


Competing Interests



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