Whether vapes are ‘legal’ in Australia or not is a little confusing. Australian vaping laws are a blend of state and federal laws, so the answer may vary depending on where in Australia you are, but let’s try and clear it up once and for all.
Vaping without any prescription is NOT permitted in Australia
As a starting point, when we talk about vaping here, we are referring to ‘nicotine vaping’.
If you wish to use an e-cigarette, then doing so is prohibited in Australia unless you have a prescription.
As of May, selling nicotine vaping products (NVPs) in Australia without a prescription is illegal regardless if it contains or does not contain nicotine.
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The Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler, mentioned that the Australian government is stamping out the illegal vaping market in Australia by doing the following:
- stop the import of non-prescription vapes;
- increase the minimum quality standards for vapes including by restricting flavours, colours, and other ingredients;
- require pharmaceutical-like packaging;
- reduce the allowed nicotine concentrations and volumes; and
- ban all single use, disposable vapes.
What about legally vaping in Australia?
Since October 2021, you must have a medical prescription to legally buy nicotine vaping products in Australia.
Further, regulation of e-cigarettes in Australia means that nicotine vaping is only permitted when a doctor prescribes it to you to help you stop smoking.
This would mean you must be a motivated smoker looking for the best tool to help you quit smoking for good.
More about prescription vaping products
If you wish to understand more about vaping and whether it is suitable for you, you should speak to your GP.
Alternatively, Smokefree’s bulk-billed service allows you to speak to an authorised GP about your options, and if appropriate, prescribe you a nicotine vaping product.
You must go to a registered pharmacy and they will dispense your e-cigarette in accordance with your script.
While any pharmacy should be able to access appropriate nicotine vaping products for you, Smokefree’s pharmacy finder will help you find your nearest pharmacy with nicotine vaping products in-store that comply with the Australian vaping laws.
Any store which is not a registered pharmacy that sells vapes that contain or do not contain nicotine is doing so illegally.
But aren’t lots of stores selling nicotine vapes, even if it is illegal?
Once the new laws stated by the Department of Health and Aged Care get fully implemented, the country should see a huge decline of corner stores, groceries, and tobacconists offering illicit NVPs.
When a product is sold illegally it is not subject to the standards that have been put in place to protect you, and in some cases may even be counterfeit.
Illicit NVPs are imported under the radar, just like illicit tobacco and drugs, and are made as cheaply as possible for maximum profits
Stores selling vapes illegally can be fined tens of thousands of dollars or more, including jail time in certain cases.
What about buying vapes online?
Today, you can only get online prescriptions for an NVP after a GP has assessed you. Any NVP you buy online is illegal and unsafe.
Whether your doctor will write a script to allow you to buy NVPs depends on their prior assessments.
If an online store is prepared to sell you vaping products without a prescription, then what you buy will be illegal. When you buy products illegally, the likelihood of buying quality products that are appropriate for you is reduced.
And this is where it can get really bad – if your nicotine vaping products come from overseas and you don’t have a prescription, Australian vaping laws mean that you could be fined up to A$220,000 for illegal importing.
Furthermore, all reliable NVPs are only stocked in physical pharmacies and never sold online. These NVPs from physical pharmacies were made under stringent pharmaceutical standards on the manufacturing process and ingredients, are toxicologically assessed for inhalation, are locally insured, and are specifically designed to help you stop smoking.
So, are vapes illegal in Australia?
If they’re accessed under a GP’s prescription and from registered physical pharmacies, you’re doing buying it from a reliable source and you must intend to use it for smoking cessation.
If they’re accessed without a prescription, or from under-the-counter domestic sellers, purchasing and using these nicotine vaping products in Australia is illegal, and rightly so.
Have you seen stores that are selling vaping products illegally?
If so, you can report those stores here.
Vapes or NVPs aren’t completely illegal in Australia, only the ones that come from unconfirmed and dodgy sources. With the new laws in place, it’s highly likely that vaping will finally become a tool intended for what it was made for: to help you stop smoking for good.
We know you’re reading this because you’re concerned which kind of NVP is legal and illegal to avoid getting in trouble. We hope you found this information useful, and we can also help you get started on your quit journey.
Smokefree Clinic gives you access to many medically reviewed and trustworthy resources that can inform and aid you in your path to wellness, so have a look around!
If you’re ready to get started, Smokefree can connect you to bulk-billing Australian healthcare professionals who excel in helping patients quit smoking for good, including using responsible vaping products where appropriate.
Click here to book your bulk-billed telehealth consultation with an Australian healthcare professional and quit smoking today.