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22 Jun. 2020

Prohibition on importing e-cigarettes containing vaporiser nicotine

UPDATE: Federal Minister for Health Greg Hunt has delayed this legislation until 2021.

The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) announced Friday 19 June the Australian Government intend to ask the Governor-General in Council to amend the Customs (Prohibited Import) Regulations from 1 July 2020 prohibiting the importation of e-cigarettes containing vaporiser nicotine (nicotine in solution or in salt or base form) and nicotine-containing refills unless on prescription from a doctor.

This means the sale of nicotine vapour without a script from a doctor will be prohibited. 

The TGA explains if you are already using these products what to expect below:

If both you and your doctor believe that the use of nicotine e-cigarettes can help you to stop smoking then you can still access the products with appropriate medical supervision.

You will need a prescription from your doctor for an e-cigarette containing vaporiser nicotine, and it will need to be obtained on your behalf by a medical supplier or from a pharmacist who dispenses it for your use as the named patient. The company or the pharmacist will need to be given a copy of your prescription.

You are no longer permitted to import nicotine for use in e-cigarettes directly from an overseas supplier without a valid import permit.

If you have been using non-nicotine containing e-cigarettes, you can locally purchase (where legal in your state or territory); or alternatively you can import e-cigarettes which do not contain vaporiser nicotine.

Other nicotine replacement therapies including sprays, patches, lozenges and chews will remain available.

An Australian pharmacist may dispense or compound vaporiser nicotine for use in an e-cigarette by a named patient holding a valid Australian prescription.

How can e-cigarettes be brought into Australia?

You may not bring e-cigarettes containing vaporiser nicotine into Australia by international surface or airmail services. A doctor may apply for permission to import and, if successful, may use courier services (e.g. Federal Express or UPS), or a commercial organisation that handles prescription e-cigarettes may apply for a permit and import the products through these routes. Supply to you would be in accordance with the doctor's prescription.

What are the penalties?

There are harsh penalties for importing, attempting to import and possessing a prohibited import under the Customs Act 1901. These offences are punishable by penalty of up to 1,000 penalty units (from 1 July 2020, $222,000).

To comply with the law, if you believe e-cigarettes may assist you with smoking cessation please discuss with your doctor and follow the correct procedure.

To learn more about this issue, please visit the Australian Government Department of Health website here.

If you would like information on smoking cessation or support, please call Quitline on 13 78 48 or visit https://nt.cancer.org.au/preventing-cancer/smoking-and-tobacco/quitline....