The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has issued three infringement notices totalling $39,960 to Sydney-based company RV Global Ecommerce Pty Ltd (RV Global) for alleged unlawful advertising of nicotine vaping products.
RV Global allegedly advertised, on its website, disposable nicotine vaping products that contain a Schedule 4 prescription only substance included in the Poisons Standard. Under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (the Act), vaping products that contain nicotine are prescription only medicines and cannot be advertised to the Australian public.
The TGA provided RV Global with detailed guidance about the legal requirements for importers, suppliers and advertisers of nicotine vaping products. The TGA also informed the company that it must immediately remove all advertising of nicotine vaping products from its website. The website was taken down however the TGA identified that it had been moved to a different domain name linked to RV Global. On the new domain, the company continued to advertise the same vaping products that contain nicotine, but had removed references to nicotine from some of the products.
Advertisers need to be aware that if they remove the word nicotine from an advertisement for a nicotine vaping product, they are likely supplying a counterfeit therapeutic good by not declaring the ingredient. Under section 42E of the Act, the supply of counterfeit goods is a criminal offence and a Court could impose a punishment of up to 7 years imprisonment. The TGA strongly recommends that advertisers consider the full extent of the legal requirements before taking steps to change labelling, presentation or online advertising of nicotine vaping products.
This sort of behaviour is misleading and poses a risk to public health and safety, as consumers may unknowingly purchase a product that contains nicotine. The TGA has published a warning in relation to counterfeit nicotine vaping products.
From 1 October 2021, consumers require a valid prescription from an Australian doctor to legally import a nicotine vaping product from online suppliers.
A valid prescription continues to be required to purchase nicotine vaping products from Australian pharmacies.
It remains illegal for other Australian retailers to sell nicotine vaping products to consumers.
The TGA has published information for consumers on how to legally access nicotine vaping products, following consultation and a prescription from their doctor, as a treatment to help stop smoking.
The TGA advises consumers that if they are considering buying nicotine vaping products online it is important to be careful, especially when the seller does not ask for a valid prescription. Products sold online that are not entered in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods may be counterfeit (fake), containing undeclared (hidden) ingredients. Consumers are encouraged to ask the overseas supplier questions about the ingredients, packaging, labelling and manufacturing of the product.
Compliance and enforcement
The TGA is taking prompt and appropriate action to ensure compliance with the law. Our nicotine vaping products compliance and enforcement plan sets out an intelligence-informed, risk-based approach.
A Melbourne-based individual was issued seven infringement notices totalling $18,648, for alleged advertising breaches in relation to nicotine vaping products.
The TGA encourages the reporting of suspected non-compliant advertising.
If you suspect non-compliance in relation to therapeutic goods more broadly, you can report illegal or questionable practices online to the TGA.