E-cigarettes to take another regulatory hit

3 minute read

Personal importation of nicotine liquids and single-use vapes are on the chopping block.

The federal Labor government plans to shut down the personal importation scheme and ban single-use e-cigarettes in an effort to restrict vaping to therapeutic use only.

According to a report in The Australian last night, which cited a “secret consultation paper shared with industry”, refillable vapes will be available from pharmacists exclusively, with a prescription, and in mint and tobacco flavours only.

Personal importation of vaping products, under which users are currently allowed to bring three months’ supply into the country, will be banned without a permit from the Office of Drug Control, as it is “prone to abuse and diversion of vapes for illegitimate supply”.

Advertising will be banned, and plain packaging and prominent warning labels introduced.

On ABC Radio this morning Health Minister Mark Butler said the plan was to “ban all vapes that are being marketed for recreational use, in order to get them back to what the industry said was their original stated purpose, which was … to be a therapeutic good to help very hardened smokers kick the habit”.

He said Border Force would be given more resources to block the importation of vaping products, but that he wasn’t naïve enough to think no vapes would get through and that co-ordinated in-country enforcement would also be necessary.

“There will be, I fear, organised crime that continues to try to get these things through the border, and as happens with illicit drugs, they will get through,” he said. “But we have a responsibility to younger Australians to fight this thing and we are determined to fight them.”

Mr Butler said the hard work by the community over decades to reduce smoking and its attendant morbidities was being undone by “a cynical marketing exercise by the tobacco industry to recruit a new generation of nicotine addicts”.

“We are being flooded with these things from overseas and we’ve got to have a comprehensive approach to it that stops them at the border, but also has on-the-ground policing of these vape stores and other stores that cynically, often deliberately, set themselves up down the road from a school because they know that is their target market.”

A study published yesterday in the MJA put the rate of vaping among 14-17-year-olds at around 6%, with more than a quarter having vaped at some point.

Mr Butler said the personal importation scheme had become “a bit of a rort for people to import a whole bunch of vapes and then on-sell them. The only way you’re going to be able to legally import these things is with, effectively, approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration that you are importing a product that complies with the standards we’ve put in place.

“So, say goodbye to the pink unicorns, the bubble gum flavours, the highly variable nicotine content.”

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