Sydney. The Australian Government is introducing a series of measures today to restrict the availability of ‘vapes’ this year. With the introduction of these new measures, the loopholes in the existing laws can be removed and the sale of highly addictive, ‘flavoured’, cheap and harmful ‘vaping’ products to children can be banned. Electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes are called ‘vapes’. Many ‘vapes’ contain nicotine, which can make people addicted.
‘Vaping’ products will however be available through prescription to anyone who wants to use them to quit smoking. What are the new rules? And why are they needed? Prior to the 2024 rule change, ‘vaping’ products imported and sold in Australia were required to be nicotine-free and could only be obtained with a prescription from a qualified health professional. People were also allowed to import nicotine-vapes from abroad through the individual importation scheme, provided they had a valid prescription.
The ‘vaping’ industry – including manufacturers, importers and retailers – took advantage of these loopholes, openly selling nicotine-containing products to youth and falsely claiming that these products were “nicotine-free.” But the only way to differentiate between nicotine and nicotine-free ‘vapes’ is to test it in a laboratory. However, this is a time-consuming and costly solution given the high number of imported products. The new laws help clear up confusion, make rules clearer and enforceable.
The regulatory changes will be implemented in three phases:-
1. Import restrictions
The first phase, being implemented from today, includes a ban on the import of all single-use ‘vapes’. These are the products that are most popular among young people and come in a variety of ‘flavours’ including fruit, confectionery, cocktail and tobacco. Single-use ‘vapes’ cannot be refilled. These come in many sizes. The use of ‘disposable vapes’ is on the rise in Australia and there has been a significant increase in ‘vapes’ use among teenagers and young adults. The import of all other types of ‘vapes’, including refillable products, will be banned from March 1, 2024, unless importers have a license and permit to legally import ‘vapes’.
2. Ban on domestic manufacturing and sale
The next phase of the reforms will end the retail sale of all types of ‘vaping’ products, regardless of their nicotine content. This phase is expected to be implemented in late 2024. This second phase will include a ban on the manufacture, supply, advertising and commercial possession of ‘vapes’ that are beyond prescription.
3. Access to Prescriptions
Regulations on ‘vapes’ for medical purposes are being changed to allow access to products that meet quality standards. ‘Vapes’ will continue to be permitted for medicinal purposes in Australia and medical professionals can prescribe their use.
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