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Aussie vapers now able to get nicotine prescriptions

Posted on April 26, 2020

AUSTRALIAN doctors are now providing nicotine prescriptions when suitable for smokers who cannot quit with conventional treatments and choose to vape. A list of GPs who provide this service is available on the ATHRA website. Consultations can be provided face-to-face, by telephone or video and in many cases are bulk-billed.

The use of nicotine liquid for vaping is recommended as a second-line treatment for smokers who are motivated to quit smoking but have been unsuccessful with conventional treatments. Smokers who are unable to quit should discuss with their doctor whether vaping is an appropriate quitting method for them.

Until recently, Australian doctors have been reluctant to write nicotine prescriptions. However, three leading Australian medical Colleges now acknowledge a role for vaping to help smokers quit:

The College of General Practitioners requires that smokers should first raise the topic with their doctor and that patients should be informed that:

  • No tested and approved e-cigarette products are available
  • The long-term health effects of vaping are unknown
  • Possession of nicotine-containing e-liquid without a prescription is illegal
  • In order to maximise possible benefit and minimise risk of harms, only short-term use should be recommended
  • Dual use (ie with continued tobacco smoking) needs to be avoided.

Vaping is a far safer alternative to smoking for adult smokers. Vaping is used short-term as a stepping-stone to quitting or as a long-term replacement for smoking if needed to prevent relapse.

Nicotine prescriptions

The availability of nicotine prescriptions is an important breakthrough for smokers and vapers as it is a criminal offence to possess liquid nicotine in Australia without a prescription

Many smokers have been faced with the choice of serious health damage from smoking or the risk of criminal charges for choosing an effective quitting method. There are now 300,000 vapers in Australia and most have been forced to break the law to improve their health.

Vapers do not need to show their prescription to the retailer when ordering. Prescriptions should be kept in a safe place in case requested by authorities. It is a good idea to keep a photo of your prescription on your smartphone.

Penalties for possessing nicotine without a prescription are severe and include a $45,000 fine for each offence in Western Australia to jail terms of up to 2 years in the NT, TAS and ACT.

Training for doctors

Vaping and nicotine prescribing are new and unfamiliar skills for most medicos in Australia. Doctors who would like to learn more can contact ATHRA for further training, here.

ATHRA has a 5-page handout for doctors which summarises the science and legal issues and provides practical information for counselling patients, such as how to select a vaping device and nicotine concentration, where to buy devices and nicotine and how to write a nicotine prescription. There is also a handout for patients who have received a prescription.

ATHRA will happily provide telephone advice for doctors and we have a range of other resources on our website to provide further education. Doctors can create an account at and log in to the Health Professional section for more.

We will also have podcasts and a webinar as well for GP training in the near future.

Click here to find a doctor

Posted by Colin Mendelsohn,

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18 Replies to “Aussie vapers now able to get nicotine prescriptions”

Alexander Sillan

Now the laws are passed, how can I get a prescription. I have stopped smoking for 6 months now with the help of vaping nicotine liquid and now salts. This new law will force me back onto cigarettes. I don't want to start smoking cigarettes again due to my multiple illnesses. If I start smoking cigarettes again, it will hugely effect my life and how long I will be alive.
This law is stupid, written by stupid people. This will impact so many people's lives and it will impact me gravely.


I'm the same as you. Absolutely in panic mode over this stupid stupid decision.

Brendan C

It truly is sad that our government feels compelled to not regulate but ban the use of nicotine in e-liquid, its all well and good to claim one can gain a prescriptions, however there is exactly 1 doctor in Victoria who will do so .

Worse the prescription does not allow you to import your nicotine, doing so will as of next month land you with possible jail time for simply trying to quit or improve your health by vaping.

"Individuals would get their vaporiser nicotine-containing e-cigarettes or nicotine-containing refills via a permission granted by the Department of Health to a doctor or medical supplier who would be able to import the goods using a courier service or by cargo service."
in other words even with prescriptions your ability to access the nicotine is exactly zero as of right no i have been unable to find a single provider for the above.

Mr Hunt has done nothing for public health , instead he has handed many Australians who may have found vaping to be a viable alternative to smoking a death sentence. And for those of us like my self who where able to kick a 20 year habit in under 24hrs thanks to vaping are left with a possible relapse to cigarettes .. but hey that's really what the government wants after all tobacco tax is big money.

Julie Bennett

Does this mean Nicotine e-liquid will be on the PBS? I'm sure non-vaping Australian's must be thrilled about this.


No it will not be on the PBS.


I'd say it would still be worth trying to get that prescription, with covid going in, doctors are offering non-face to face appointments so even if the one doctor in your region isn't near you, you could still approach them.. A prescription would be a good thing to have up your sleeve just in case there's a law change that *does* allow for actual prescription access.


Same here. I smoked 50 per day for 42 yrs. Vaping has saved my life for the last 2 and a half years. This whole ban seems very fishy because nobody saw it coming. I reckon there is more to this


Here you go.

Constantine Hatzi

will it be on pbs
considering the smoking rates among those who are low on the socio-economic ladder


Sorry Constantine. It should be but don't hold your breath!


There is vapour without nicotine, will these oils also be available?

Thank you


Hi Jenny, They are available for sale for 18+ at present and that wont change for now. By the way they are not oils – important because oils are harmful to the lungs.

Crystal Lee Grabnar

I have been to two different Dr know, one said they didn't support it, the other said it was media hyp and there was no such thing as a prescription for nicotine liquid. This is so upsetting. Wish they would get with the times.

Courtney loth

How is this helpful to anyone not in Brisbane in qld

David Reed

Are there any Doctors in the ACT that can provide me with a prescription for vaping.


I purchased a vape pen 2 1/2 years ago after smoking 30-40 cancer causing cigarettes a day and from the moment I had my first puff, I have never felt like or consumed 1 single cigarette, I tried pills and patches, hypnosis, vile tea drinks and nothing worked. Shame on the Australian Government for being so small minded. My breathing has improved out of site I can even run up hills with my miniature schnauzer. You will have blood on your hands Mr Gregg Hunt, shame on you.

John Hoyle

Gday, my GP freaked out when I asked for a prescription for Nic e-liquid, should I doctor shop ? Could you up date your doctor list ?

James adams

I want to get Oh prescription for nicotine for my vapour

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