Australia’s medical experts, including the AHPPC, have warned of the health dangers of e-cigarettes.
This is consistent with the existing ban in all states and territories on the sale of e-cigarettes containing vaporiser nicotine.
Smoking rates in Australia have declined significantly over the past two decades, from 22.3 per cent in 2001 to 13.8 per cent in 2017-18.
But the latest statistics show tobacco use still contributed to an estimated 21,000 deaths, or more than one in eight, in 2015. This is why we need to drive down those smoking rates further.
In particular, around the world we have seen strong evidence of non-smokers being introduced to nicotine through vaping for the first time.
Therefore the Government is responding to the advice by ensuring that nicotine based e-cigarettes can only be imported on the basis of a prescription from a doctor.
This will help prevent the introduction of non-smokers to nicotine via vaping.
However there is a second group of people who have been using these e-cigarettes with nicotine as a means to ending their cigarette smoking.
In order to assist this group in continuing to end that addiction we will therefore provide further time for implementation of the change by establishing a streamlined process for patients obtaining prescriptions through their GP.
For this reason, the implementation timeframe will be extended by six months to 1 January 2021.
People should always be consulting their GP on these health matters and ensuring this is the right product for them.
This will give patients time to talk with the GP, discuss the best way to give up smoking, such as using other products including patches or sprays, and if still required, will be able to gain a prescription.
We note that the RACGP’s Supporting smoking cessation – A guide for health professionals stipulates that nicotine-containing e-cigarettes are not first-line treatments for smoking cessation.
During this time, the Therapeutic Goods Administration will undertake a formal review and consultation process regarding the classification of nicotine in the Poisons Standard which will inform the implementation.
The Victorian Poisons Centre reported a near doubling of nicotine poisons between 2018 (21 cases) and 2019 (41 cases), primarily caused by imported products of dubious safety and quality.
A Victorian toddler died from nicotine poisoning in July 2018.