The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has announced new proposals regarding the re-classification of nicotine in Australia to the dismay of Australian vapers.
Under the new scheme, Australian vapers would need to be granted a prescription by their doctor and then purchase products from a pharmacy if they wish to vape nicotine.
The new legislation would also completely ban the personal importation of nicotine.
The Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association (ATHRA), Australia’s largest advocacy group for tobacco harm reduction, said:
“No other western country requires vapers to have a doctor’s prescription for nicotine liquid, let alone visit a pharmacy to buy it.
“The result will be that fewer smokers will be able to switch to vaping, a far safer alternative, and more people will die a smoking-related death.”
Australia banned the possession and sale of e-cigarettes containing nicotine in 2009.
However, a loophole has allowed Australian vapers to import nicotine-containing e-liquids and nicotine base.
For over a decade, this grey market solution has been the only route for Australians to vape legally.
On July 1, Health Minister Greg Hunt signed a nicotine import ban into law, with fines of up to $200,000.
However, the massive pushback from advocacy groups and vapers delayed the implementation of this legislation until 2021.
ATHRA has outlined the new process for obtaining an e-cigarette prescription:
- Vaper or smoker consults doctor and pays fee
- Doctor assesses the patient and discusses other options if appropriate
- If appropriate, doctor completes complex online form for an ‘SAS-B’ approval
- TGA decides if approval will be granted
- Patient returns to pick up the script if application accepted. A second fee may be charged.
- Patient goes to pharmacist
- Pharmacist orders supplies from wholesaler
- Patient purchase from pharmacist with a generous pharmacy mark up
- Repeat yearly
The new system appears to cut specialist retailers out of the system entirely, while creating new obstacles for Australian vapers to overcome.
In addition to this, doctors and pharmacists would be under no obligation to prescribe e-cigarettes.
As of now, only 8 GPs in Australia have shown any interest in writing nicotine prescriptions.
The Pharmacy Guild is opposed to allowing vape products to be sold in pharmacies, according to a submission to the TGA.
Australian vapers have until November 6 to submit their thoughts on the new legislation.
If you would like to support ATHRA’s campaign against the proposal, you can donate here.