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Vaping and tobacco reforms 2024 FAQs

2023 was a historic year for Australia with the Federal Government taking vital steps to prevent further risks posed by e-cigarettes to young people. The year also saw the support of new legislation to extend tobacco controls and to put a stop to social media promotion of vaping products in Australia, further protecting current and future generations.

What are the vaping reforms effective from 1 January 2024?

From 1 January 2024, the Federal Government will implement a ban on the importation of disposable single use vapes. This ban will apply to disposable vapes regardless of whether they contain nicotine.

Two important actions also come into effect to support this change:

  1. A new ‘Special Access Scheme’ pathway for medical practitioners and nurse practitioners to prescribe vapes will commence on 1 January 2024. This new pathway is aimed at reducing the amount of ‘red tape’ involved for medical practitioners and nurse practitioners who consider it appropriate to prescribe vapes for a patient to help with quitting smoking. Vaping products that are prescribed by a medical or nurse practitioner are known as ‘therapeutic vapes’.

  2. An additional $29.5 million has been allocated in the 2023-24 Budget to help Australians quit vaping, including funding to support access and critical expansion of Quitline services to meet the needs of younger Australians.

What about importing other types of vapes?

The reforms commencing on 1 January 2024 will only relate to importation of single use disposable vapes. 

From 1 March 2024, further changes are expected to commence addressing importation of other types of vapes. These changes include the following:

  •  it will be unlawful to import all non-therapeutic vapes (regardless of whether they contain nicotine). Patients will no longer be able to order vapes from overseas (even with a prescription).

What about sale of vapes within Australia?

It is important to note that the new laws commencing on 1 January 2024 and 1 March 2024 relate to importation of vapes only (they do not affect the sale/supply of vapes within Australia). This means that the sale of vapes by general retailers (including vape stores) will continue to be legal in Victoria (and most other states and territories) after these new laws come into effect (provided the vape does not contain nicotine or any other restricted substance).

The Government is expected to introduce further laws later in 2024 which will restrict the manufacture and supply of all non-therapeutic vapes. It is these laws that will stop the sale of all vapes by retailers (including vape stores). We do not yet have a timeframe for when the new laws addressing sale of vapes within Australia will be introduced. This page will be updated as soon as possible once further information is available.

In the meantime, the sale of vapes containing nicotine continues to be illegal in all Australian states and territories (unless the purchaser has a valid prescription and purchases the vape from a registered pharmacist). The sale of vapes to anyone under the age of 18 is also illegal in all states and territories (regardless of whether they contain nicotine).

How will these vaping reforms help Australians?

Keeping young Australians safer by reducing exposure to illicit vaping products

We know that vapes pose a range of known and unknown risks to Australians, particularly among young people. The latest data, from the first quarter of 2023, shows that about 1 in 7 14-17-year-olds and 1 in 5 18-24-year-olds currently vape.

E-cigarette liquids can contain more than 200 chemicals, and some of these – such as arsenic and benzene – are known to cause cancer. Vape usage has been confirmed to cause seizures, lung, facial and oral injuries, dizziness, loss of concentration, and nicotine poisoning. Exposure to nicotine can exacerbate mood disorders and has been linked to negative impacts on cognitive performance and brain structure.
 
There is strong and consistent evidence that young Australians who vape are about 3 times more likely to take up tobacco smoking compared to young Australians who have never vaped. Among 18-24 year olds, there's been a 6-fold increase in dual use (using both vapes and tobacco).

Australia’s world leading success in tobacco control has been under considerable threat in recent years, as a resurgent industry has marketed its harmful, illicit vaping products to children and young adults online and in retail stores, often co-locating products alongside sugary drinks, lollies and toys.

No-one should be allowed to profit from selling a dangerous and addictive product. These vaping reforms cement Australia as a world leader in tobacco control.

Ensuring people using vapes to stop smoking can access therapeutic vapes that meet product and safety standards

As explained above, the new Special Access Scheme pathway will help make it easier for people to access therapeutic vapes under medical supervision. From 1 March 2024, importers and manufacturers of therapeutic vapes will also need to notify the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) that their products comply with certain product standards imposed by the TGA.

How will these vaping reforms impact people using vapes to quit smoking?

As explained above, the new Special Access Scheme pathway to prescribe vapes will commence on 1 January 2024. This new pathway is intended to make it easier for people to access therapeutic vapes under medical supervision by reducing the amount of ‘red tape’ involved for medical practitioners and nurse practitioners who consider it appropriate to prescribe vapes for a patient.

  • To help ensure therapeutic vapes meet certain safety and product standards, from 1 March 2024 it is expected the following changes will also be introduced: There will be a new requirement for importers and manufacturers of therapeutic vapes to notify the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) of their product’s compliance with the relevant product standards before the product can be imported.

  • There will be a new requirement for importers to obtain a licence and permit from the Australian Government’s Office of Drug Control before the products are imported.

During 2024, product standards for therapeutic vapes will also be strengthened. It is expected that these strengthened standards will:

  • limit flavours

  • reduce allowable nicotine concentrations

  • require pharmaceutical packaging, and

  • introduce certain safety requirements for vaping devices.

As explained above, the Government will introduce legislation in 2024 to prevent domestic manufacture, advertisement, supply and commercial possession of non-therapeutic and disposable single use vapes to ensure comprehensive controls on vapes across all levels of the supply chain.

Quitline (13 7848) will continue to support people who are using vapes to quit smoking.

What support is available for people wanting to quit vaping?

Quitline (13 7848) can support people of all ages to stop vaping, and can also help people who are using vapes to quit smoking. Quitline is a free telephone counselling service delivered by friendly, qualified counsellors who help people identify and manage their triggers, understand nicotine withdrawals as well as build the motivation, skills and confidence to quit and stay quit.

In 2024 there will be an expansion of Quitline services to help support more young people wanting to quit vaping, after the Government announced an additional allocation in the 2023-24 Budget of $29.5 million to help Australians quit vaping.

There are many ways to get in touch with Quitline:

  • Call 13 7848 Mon - Fri 8am to 8pm

  • Text 'call back' to 0482 090 634

  • Webchat at quit.org.au

  • Message us on Facebook Messenger @quitvic or WhatsApp: 61 385 832 920 

  • Request a callback using the online form: 

How will the new vaping reforms be monitored?

In 2023, Ministers agreed to task officials with developing a national enforcement framework for vaping products – to stamp out unlawful vapes in the community and prevent illegal markets from emerging. It was agreed that a multi-agency National Vaping Working Group will be established to oversee development and implementation of the national enforcement framework.
 
This strong, comprehensive action, complemented by enhanced compliance and enforcement activity across all governments, will turn the tide against the rising use of vapes by young Australians.

What is the new tobacco legislation?

Developed over the past four years, the new tobacco legislation consolidates seven separate national laws and regulations passed over the last five decades. It also introduces controls on additives to tobacco products that make them more attractive and palatable to children.

The new expanded legislation will: 

  • Extend marketing controls on advertising of tobacco & vaping products through social media 

  • Further standardise the look of tobacco packaging and the cigarette itself 

  • Limit packaging size to ensure that tobacco products are not affordable to teenagers 

  • Get rid of brand and variant names that misleadingly suggest reduced harm or which distract from the harmfulness of the product 

  • Mandate package warnings on health conditions caused by smoking as well as information about quitting 

  • Require tobacco companies to report on exactly what they add to tobacco products, what they spend on marketing, and how many and what products they import and sell 

  • Make it easier for the Government to enforce the legislation. 

Last updated December 2023

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