It is legal to import nicotine into Queensland
Posted on July 9, 2018
Queensland vapers can now be reassured that it is legal to import and use nicotine e-liquid if holding a prescription.
After repeated challenges by ATHRA, Queensland Health has now admitted that importation of nicotine to stop smoking is legal under the TGA Personal Importation Scheme (see below). Vapers need a prescription from their doctor to qualify.
Queensland Health has misled the public for several years by insisting that state laws (HDPR 1996) override Commonwealth legislation, making it illegal under any circumstances to import or possess nicotine.
However, in a letter to ATHRA on 6 June 2018, Qld Health states: [letter here]
‘Persons seeking to access unapproved products containing liquid nicotine for human therapeutic use may do so under the Special Access Scheme or the Personal Importation Scheme of the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)’
Misinformation and intimidation
Queensland Health has intercepted personal nicotine imports and threatened and intimidated vapers for several years. For example, below is letter from Qld Health to a vaper last year advising that their nicotine order was confiscated and threatening a $9,752 fine. There have been many similar confiscations of legally purchased products.
Queensland Health has also intimidated doctors in the past stating that it is illegal for a doctor to prescribe nicotine e-liquid to help a smoker quit. They have also advised that it is illegal for interstate vapers to visit Queensland with nicotine for personal use.
There was an episode in 2016 in which a regular vape meeting was cancelled after threats by Qld Health and the Qld police. The group, Brisvape had 1,600 members and met monthly in Brisbane to discuss vaping and share information.
Even after acknowledging that nicotine imports are legal, Qld Health still has on its website here that (9 July 2018):
‘Electronic cigarettes containing liquid nicotine are illegal in Queensland’ and that ‘importing electronic cigarettes containing nicotine for personal or therapeutic use’ is an offence, with a maximum penalty of $9,108.
This is misleading. Under the TGA Personal importation scheme it is legal to import, possess and use nicotine e-liquid for quitting smoking.
Qld Health even asks the public to dob-in-a-vaper and report ‘possession of electronic cigarettes containing liquid nicotine’ whether the vaper has a prescription or not.
What is the TGA Personal Importation Scheme?
The TGA Personal Importation Scheme is a federal government scheme under which Australians can legally import goods for treatment (such as nicotine e-liquid) which are otherwise not approved in Australia. Under the scheme, it is legal to import 3 months’ supply of nicotine for personal use if prescribed by a doctor for quitting or reducing smoking. It is also legal to possess and use the nicotine e-liquid.
The Personal Importation Scheme applies in all states and territories in Australia.
Why is it important?
Electronic cigarettes with nicotine are being used as a safer alternative to smoking tobacco by many Queenslanders who have been unable to quit smoking with conventional treatments.
Switching to vaping leads to substantial health improvements and can be life-saving. According to the UK Royal College of Physicians, long-term vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking. Millions of smokers have quit overseas by switching to vaping.
Vapers whose nicotine supplies are confiscated or are intimidated into not vaping are at high risk of relapse to smoking.
Vapers targeted in Queensland Health crackdown
Queensland Times, 10 July 2018