Despite the majority of submissions disagreeing with with the TGAs vaping regulation public consultation run in late 2022, policy makers dismissed these submissions as being "campaign responses from nicotine addicts" and on May 2nd, Australian Federal Minister of Health Mark Butler announced the government plans to double down on a proposed vaping ban in Australia.
You can view Mark Butlers release here.
The reason for the ban comes from unintended consequences resulting from a failed prescription model implemented in October 2021 which in turn created one of the largest blackmarkets for vaping products the world has ever known.
Prohibition on the import of non-prescription vaping products
Only pharmacies will be able to import vaping products. For a pharmacy to import a vaping product they will need to obtain an import permit from the TGA, and prove that products comply to new product requirements and will be limited for sale in registered pharmacies only.
Any shipments declared as containing a vaping product will be refused entry into Australia unless the importer has a valid vaping import permit.
Black-market vaping products declared as flavorings, shampoo, essential oils etc will continue to arrive into Australia as usual, much like traditional contraband such as heroine, cocaine and tobacco which continues to be smuggled through Australian boarders every day.
Pharmaceutical packaging for all vaping products with plain flavours only. Minister Butler hasn't stated a full flavour ban but has mentioned flavours like "BubbleGum" will be prohibited under the new rules.
Reduced nicotine concentrations
Based on the TGA consultation the intent is to limit the maximum concentration of nicotine to 20mg/ml, making vaping significantly less effective at satisfying cravings from tobacco cigarettes.
Prohibition on all single use, disposable vapes.
The Minister for Health and Aged care and now environment plans to ban all single use disposable vaping products, based on their environmental impact.
State Governments to be a made responsible for closing down small retail businesses
The intention of this is that the importation and sale of vapes in retail settings will end. State governments will be responsible for closing down the sale of vapes in retail settings, ending vape sales in convenience stores and other retail settings,
Acknowledging the therapeutic benefits of vaping as a means to quit smoking, pharmacies will be the only retailers of vaping products like this one part owned by Chemist Warehouse and associated with a former Health Minister.
Prescriptions will be "easier to get" , with all GPs being authorised to provide a vaping prescription to a generic pharmacy branded vaping product if they deem it to be necessary.
Increased Support to Tobacco Industry
Minister Butler acknowledges that closing down the sale of vapes in retail settings will likely result in an uptake in smoking so is introducing an addition 5% tobacco excise hike per year projected to generate an additional $3.3b in taxes.
Tobacco excise has taken a hammering in recent years with Treasurer Jim Chalmers recently stating the rise of vaping in Australia is concerning and has caused a $5b budget hole resulting from lower smoking rates. Unfortunately this is not a conspiracy theory - Click here!
The Government plans to use $63m of this tax windfall to fund public health information campaign to discourage Australians from taking up vaping, and a further $30m in support programs aimed at helping Australians quit!
Timeline - When will the Australia Vape Ban Happen?
Right now this is simply an announcement of intent from the Government and there have been no timelines communicated.
There have been no changes to the current rules, your current prescription is still valid and orders to Australia are making it through as usual.
For the proposed ban to take place, State Health Departments need to work together to coordinate and create a suite of regulations, which will take time. Given the sheer scale of businesses and adult ex smokers impacted under these proposals its unlikely to be an immediate change so we'll keep you informed as information develops.
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