On 1 October 2021 new vaping laws in Australia have come into effect.
People living in Australia wanting to quit smoking and purchase nicotine vaping products (whether acquired from overseas websites or an Australian supplier), now need to fill a vaping script issued by a doctor who is a TGA Authorised Nicotine Prescriber.
As these changes in legislation have left new and seasoned vapers with many questions, the article below aims to shed some light on the current vaping landscape.
Which products have been affected by the legislation changes?
The new regulations affected all products containing nicotine in solution (salt or freebase) and heated using a vaping device to make aerosol for inhalation ('vaping') such as:
- nicotine e-cigarettes
- nicotine pods
- liquid nicotine (also known as e-Juice, vape juice, e-Liquid).
Products not affected by the changes in the legislation include:
- other nicotine replacement therapies, such as nicotine sprays, nicotine patches and nicotine gums
- vaping products that do not contain nicotine.
Why did the law change?
The main concern of the Australian Government involves the increasing use of nicotine vaping products among young people, with an increment of 96% recorded between 2015 and 2019.
Vaping is quickly becoming a popular alternative way to quit smoking. The new regulations aim to prevent the rise of a new nicotine-dependent young generation while still allowing current smokers to access nicotine vaping products for smoking cessation on their doctor's advice.
According to the ATHRA (Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association), there is growing evidence that vaping has helped many smokers to quit. Vaping is only recommended for adults who are smokers and are unable or unwilling to quit smoking or nicotine, with the currently available treatments a safer alternative to smoking. It can be especially useful for smokers who miss the hand-to-mouth ritual of smoking and a ‘smoking-like experience’. While vaping may have a lower impact on your health than smoking, just like combustible cigarettes, these products contain nicotine, a substance considered addictive and harmful. ATHRA, therefore strongly discourages the use of vaporisers by non-smokers, people under the age of 18 years or in pregnancy.
It's essential to seek nicotine and smoking cessation counselling from a doctor who is a TGA Authorised Nicotine Prescriber to obtain a 'vaping script', or better, a prescription for Nicotine matching individual requirements. Smokers who have tried other methods but haven’t succeeded can discuss this option with their doctor.
Sourcing vaping products
People who have obtained a script for vaping are often left to wonder where to purchase nicotine vaping products and, most importantly, how to know what products are safe.
The two main ways to obtain nicotine vaping products once approved for a prescription are:
- Filling your prescription at an Australian pharmacy (either a physical community pharmacy or an Australian online pharmacy)
- Using the Personal Importation Scheme.
Filling your prescription at an Australian pharmacy.
Other than pharmacies dispensing vaping nicotine to patients with a prescription, it is illegal for any other Australian retailers, including vape stores, to sell products that contain vaping nicotine - however, vape stores are still able to sell flavours and vaping devices.
Personal Importation Scheme
Using the Personal Importation Scheme, people can order a maximum of 3-month supply at one time and a maximum of 15-month supply in 12 months. You will need to provide an e-script at the time of purchase to be enclosed with the package of your order and prevent any delays or even confiscation by the Australian Border Force (ABF).
What do these changes mean for current vapers?
While vaping is not encouraged as a long-term habit, if your doctors consider nicotine vaping products an appropriate treatment to help you stay off cigarettes, you may still be able to obtain a prescription and lawfully source products.
Quality and Quantity
As vaping is not considered a first-line treatment for quitting smoking (meaning, it is only encouraged when other cessation methods have failed), at present, there are no nicotine vaping products approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). However, all products purchased from Australian pharmacies must meet the standards for unapproved nicotine vaping products.
Choosing a reputable Australian supplier like a community pharmacy or an online pharmacy based in Australia will ensure standards are met when sourcing nicotine vaping products safely.
If choosing to purchase nicotine from an overseas website, it’s important to ensure the online retailer is reputable and meets TGO110 standards.
As the changes in legislation have only come into effect recently, there are still many unregulated and illegal e-cigarettes or vapes sold ‘under the counter’ in Australia.
Unregulated vapes and e-cigarettes contain several ingredients that can be harmful to health. It is important to prioritise quality when purchasing your vaping products by sourcing them from a legal prescription service.
Always source nicotine vaping products from a reputable pharmacy to ensure that the products purchased meet Australian Safety Standards.
Find more information about safe vaping and harmful ingredients: