Australian health minister Greg Hunt has delayed the ban on liquid nicotine imports that was due to start on July 1.
The ban was postponed until 2021 following backlash from vaping advocates and coalition MPs.
The minister said that the ban will now take effect on January 1, with a ‘streamlined process’ provided for vapers to get a prescription from their GP.
Nationals George Christensen and Matt Canavan campaigned against the ban on social media.
Meanwhile, Liberals Trent Zimmerman, Tim Wilson and James Peterson spoke to the media to voice their opposition to the ban as they feared it may push smokers back to cigarettes.
A total of 28 coalition MPs and Senators signed a petition opposing the ban which would apply a fine of $200,000 for those who import liquid nicotine without having a prescription in place.
Vape advocates and advocacy groups including Legalise Vaping Australia, Vaping Bogan, Grimm Green and Legion Vapes all spoke out in a campaign to reverse the ban.
Legalise Vaping Australia tweeted:
‘@GregHuntMP’s Vaping ban has been postponed! We could not have done it without the support of thousands of vapers like you. The fight is far from over, but this is a HUGE win!”
In a press statement, Mr Hunt said that the sale of e-cigarettes containing vaporised nicotine was banned because of the health dangers reported by Australia’s medical experts and the fears that non-smokers could be introduced to nicotine for the first time through vaping.
Hunt said the ban was introduced in response to medical advice “by ensuring that nicotine based e-cigarettes can only be imported on the basis of a prescription from a doctor”
“However, there is a second group of people who have been using these e-cigarettes with nicotine as a means to ending their cigarette smoking.
“In order to assist this group in continuing to end that addiction we will therefore provide further time for implementation of the change by establishing a streamlined process for patients obtaining prescriptions through their GP.”
The delay will give vapers a chance to speak to their GP to either obtain a nicotine prescription.
Coalition MP, James Paterson welcomed the change, saying:
“Vapers will be relieved to hear they will not be cut off on 1 July from a product that helped them kick the habit.
“Six months gives us the time to put in place a system that ensures anyone who needs access to these safer alternatives can get it.”
Australia’s smoking rate dropped by just 0.2 percent between 2013 and 2016, compared to five percent in England and three percent in New Zealand.