You’ve likely heard quite a bit in the media recently on vaping products and the issues surrounding youth vaping. But, what hasn’t been mentioned very much is the availability of high-quality responsible vapes at local pharmacies that are specifically for adults looking to quit smoking.
Unlike the potentially dangerous ‘recreational’ products sold illegally in convenience stores, pharmacy vapes are specifically designed for smoking cessation, are rigorously tested for inhalation safety, are locally insured, and are trusted by doctors and pharmacists as a tool to help you quit smoking.
The latest Cochrane Review has found high-certainty evidence that nicotine vapes are more effective than traditional NRT in helping people quit smoking.
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at medical vaping products (specifically pharmacy vapes in Australia), how they’re vastly different from the ones sold illegally, how to get a nicotine prescription for them, and more.
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What Are Pharmacy Vapes?
Pharmacy vapes consist of three main parts:
- The device (battery)
- The cartridge
- The nicotine liquid
Cartridges come prefilled with a specially-formulated and tested nicotine-containing liquid, and slot into the top of the device. There are no buttons or settings, so the ‘operation’ of them is very straight-forward.
It’s important to note that while pharmacy vapes may look similar to some of the illicit products out there, that’s very much where the similarities end.
Made To Pharmaceutical Standards
Unlike illicit vapes, medical vaping products available in pharmacies are provided exclusively by Australian-registered suppliers, and are manufactured in strict quality-controlled environments with pharmaceutical-grade ingredients, much like other trusted medicines.
Tested For Inhalation Safety
Unlike illicit vapes, medical vaping products are specifically-designed with your quit journey in mind, rather than quick profits. The vapes you will find in a pharmacy have undergone extensive testing and analysis to ensure they are suitable for human use:
- The ingredients in the eliquid are ‘characterized’ – this means that each individual compound in the eliquid is identified.
- Each of these compounds is then assessed by expert toxicologists.
- The eliquid is then tested with the vaping device.
- The vapour is then tested for harmful or potentially harmful compounds.
This type of testing and analysis is not done on illicit vaping products, which is the biggest difference between pharmacy vapes and those under the counter at the corner store.
Unlike illicit vapes, medical vaping products comply with all of the requirements to be supplied by medical wholesalers to registered pharmacies, and just like all other pharmaceutical products, medical vaping products are covered by local product liability insurance. This provides important reassurance for you, your doctor and your pharmacist.
Because of the above points, medical vaping products are quickly gaining support from the local medical community. Importantly, you’ll also be receiving ongoing one-on-one support from both your prescribing GP and your local pharmacist, both of whom can give you actionable guidance and the best chance of sticking with it and becoming an ex-smoker permanently.
How Do Pharmacy Vapes Work?
Pharmacy vapes deliver a dose of nicotine to satiate the strong nicotine cravings and withdrawals you’re likely to experience during the first few weeks of quitting, without exposing you to the harms of the dangerous chemicals found in cigarette smoke – over 70 of which are known to cause, initiate or promote cancer.
Medical NVPs mimic the hand-to-mouth gesture and inhalation smokers are used to, allowing you to replace cigarettes in moments when you would normally smoke, such as with your morning coffee or having a drink with friends. Replacing cigarettes with an alternative may make it easier for you to cease smoking immediately, and then remove nicotine from your life altogether.
How Do Illicit Vapes Differ From Pharmacy Vapes?
You may still be wondering “Are illicit vapes really that bad?”. The short answer is: when it comes to illicit products, you simply don’t know what you’re inhaling.
There is no visibility into the ingredients they use to produce their products, or the environments in which they’re made. Hint: at a wholesale cost of as little as one dollar, it’s not great.
Secondly, they are imported without any checks on their overseas sellers and completely under the radar, similar to illicit tobacco and drugs. When you buy illicit NVPs, there are no tests or assurances that the devices and liquids aren’t introducing dangerous chemicals and heavy metals into your lungs.
With these in mind, you may be exposing yourself to the same dangers as lighting a cigarette, or perhaps even worse.
Let’s take a closer look at each issue illicit NVPs may have.
Lack of Manufacturing Standards
Should you have the opportunity to ask a convenience store about the ingredient quality and testing results of their illicit NVPs, they won’t have an answer. With the extremely low wholesale cost of these products, many are made with cheap ingredients and in unhygienic environments prone to contamination.
A product with poor ingredients and manufacturing can also contain dangerous heavy metals like lead and nickel that will make their way into your lungs with every puff.
Not Focused on Your Health
Anything illegal is unregulated and a potential danger to you, and parties selling and distributing these illicit products simply don’t care about your health or your quit journey.
Illicit NVP manufacturers and sellers just want your money. They don’t care if you’re being exposed to potentially harmful chemicals and heavy metals, as long as you keep buying them. With dwindling cigarette sales, profits are the driving force behind the aggressive marketing tactics and brightly packaged illicit products they openly sell.
Hazardous Chemicals And Heavy Metals
It has been found that illicit NVPs contain dangerous amounts of lead, nickel, and other prohibited and hazardous chemicals.
Concerned that you’re inhaling tar with each cigarette? Vaping lead and nickel certainly shouldn’t sound appealing to you either.
How Much Do Pharmacy Vapes Cost?
Medical vaping products you can buy from pharmacies cost significantly less than what you’d pay for a pack of cigarettes. A pack of ciggies today costs about $40 per 20-pack, putting a pack-a-day smoker back around $14,000 every year.
Pharmacy vapes only cost about $10 to $13 per cartridge – which is roughly equal to around 20 cigarettes in terms of ‘puffs’ – helping a pack-a-day smoker save up to $11,000 a year.
But price isn’t the only cost. Every pack of cigarettes you smoke takes nearly 2 hours off your life expectancy. So, less time to spend less money, or more time to spend more money? The choice is yours.
Use our calculator to see how much your smoking is costing you.
How Can I Access Pharmacy Vapes?
As nicotine is a Schedule 4 medicine in Australia, nicotine vaping products can only be accessed under a doctor’s prescription. Remember, NVPs may only be effective if you’re highly motivated to quit, and a GP’s tailor-made plan suited to your needs will surely help. Prescribing NVPs is up to your GP after evaluating your progress with NRTs.
How to Buy Vapes from a Pharmacy
Here’s the entire process to help you buy vapes from a pharmacy.
Go Through First-Line Solutions First
As a second-line solution, one requirement to access NVPs is that you’ve already tried and failed to quit smoking with a first-line treatment, such as NRT products.
NRT products (like patches and gums) are the most trusted quitting option available for motivated smokers. They might not imitate cigarettes, but they contain a small dose of nicotine that may be enough to alleviate your withdrawals.
While NRTs can be effective, they don’t work for everyone. If these haven’t done the trick for you, you may now be eligible for a nicotine prescription.
Chat to a GP
As mentioned, NRT products have worked for many successful ex-smokers. But, you might have ingrained behaviours and triggers that only something that mimics a cigarette can successfully address, such as the hand-to-mouth motion, and needing something to use while having a drink with friends.
If your GP deems it necessary, they can write you a nicotine prescription for NVPs.
You can chat to your usual GP about this, or book a phone chat with an authorised prescriber of nicotine.
Once you have your nicotine prescription, you can pop down to your local pharmacy. Both your pharmacist and GP can advise you on how best to use the product, such as the initial setup, and the number of puffs to take when you feel withdrawals.
Where Can I Access Pharmacy Vapes?
More than 2,500 pharmacies in Australia currently stock medical NVPs, including Chemist Warehouse, TerryWhite Chemmart, Priceline Pharmacy, Cincotta Chemist, Wizard Pharmacy, and many more.
If your local pharmacy does not yet stock these products, they can order these in for you and keep stock on hand to suit your ongoing requirements. Have a chat with your local pharmacy to organise this.
With pharmacy vapes, you can be confident that what you’re inhaling is rigorously tested, locally insured, and specifically designed to help you on your quit journey with the help of a medical professional.
We know you’re reading this post because you want to know more about pharmacy vapes.
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 Australian healthcare professionals who excel in helping patients quit smoking for good.