Australian Government proposes strengthening its stance against e-cigarettes containing vaporiser nicotine

To reduce the risk to public health through addiction to nicotine and nicotine poisoning, the Australian Government intends to ask the Governor-General in Council to make regulations from 1 July 2020 prohibiting the importation of e-cigarettes containing vaporiser nicotine (nicotine liquids and salts) and nicotine-containing refills unless on prescription from a doctor.

The Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, requested the Department of Health to work with the Australian Border Force on a new approach to regulating e-cigarettes containing vaporiser nicotine.

The prohibition would remain in place for 12 months to allow for public consultation on the regulation in Australia of nicotine products by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (the TGA) in the form of an amendment to the Poisons Standard. This would mean that vaporiser nicotine products, including nicotine-containing e-cigarettes would require a valid prescription (except for tobacco cigarettes or TGA-approved smoking cessation products such as gums, sprays and patches). As part of this consultation the proposal will also be considered by a Ministerial advisory committee. A final decision is expected to be announced early in 2021.

Under the import prohibition, individuals would still be able to vape using vaporiser nicotine-containing e-cigarettes if they have discussed their needs with their doctor and the doctor provides a prescription.

Individuals would get their vaporiser nicotine-containing e-cigarettes or nicotine-containing refills via a permission granted by the Department of Health to a doctor or medical supplier who would be able to import the goods using a courier service or by cargo service. The goods cannot be imported through international mail. Passengers who arrive in Australia with vaporiser nicotine containing e-cigarettes and nicotine-containing refills that match a prescription they are carrying with them, would be exempt from the prohibition.

The prohibition on imports for e-cigarettes or nicotine-containing refills would be consistent with the existing ban in all state and territories on the sale of e-cigarettes containing vaporiser nicotine.

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