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Australia restricts sales of vapes to pharmacies from July 1st 2024

Written by | 6 Jul 2024 | Legislative and Regulatory

As part of a campaign to reduce the harms caused by cigarette smoking and vaping the Australian Government has introduced restrictions on the ways in which vapes can be supplied. From July 1st 2024 nicotine in Australia are regulated (by the Therapeutic Goods Agency, TGA) as therapeutic goods and are only available from pharmacies for smoking cessation and nicotine dependence.  It is illegal for other businesses, such as vape shops or convenience stores to sell any type of vape. In addition, vape flavours are restricted to mint, menthol and tobacco and advertising or promotion of vapes is banned.

Prescriptions required

Until 30th September 2024 a prescription from a doctor or nurse practitioner will be required to buy nicotine vapes from a pharmacy. This requirement will be relaxed somewhat in October when people over the age of 18 years will be able to purchase therapeutic vapes (containing nicotine 20mg/ml or less) in a pharmacy without a prescription.  However, they will need to have a discussion with the pharmacist about the dosage and other options to quit smoking and/or manage nicotine dependence.  Furthermore, they will need to provide identification before purchase and will only be allowed to purchase one month’s supply at a time. It is expected that the three-month prescription-only period will give vape-users the chance to discuss their needs with a health professional and work out the best plan for their needs. After October 1st, people under the age of 18 years will still need a prescription to access vapes; this is intended to ensure that they get appropriate medical advice and supervision.

Pharmacy opposition

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia opposes the move to make vapes available through pharmacies without prescriptions.

It argues that, “Pharmacists are healthcare professionals who dispense medication that provides a proven therapeutic benefit. No vaping product has been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration based on its safety, efficacy or performance. No vaping product is listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods.”

It believes that it is inappropriate for pharmacists to become vape retailers and vape garbage collectors.

Guild Vice President Mr Anthony Tassone said, “Community pharmacies do not want to supply this potentially harmful, highly addictive product without a prescription. We welcome any initiatives that are going to reduce the likelihood of having vapes in the hands of kids and teenagers, but having non-prescription availability through community pharmacies is not the solution”.

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