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Department of Health signals crackdown on importation of nicotine liquid

Posted on May 7, 2020


The federal Department of Health has asked the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) to amend the scheduling of nicotine, signalling a crackdown on the importation of nicotine e-liquid.

Concerns of a crackdown at the border and increased policing of nicotine were raised by a motion passed by the Senate on 27 February 2020 calling for a “ban on the importation of e-cigarette liquids containing nicotine”.

As reported in the Sydney Morning Herald, “A crackdown is coming on Australians who illegally import nicotine vaping products online. A spokesman for Mr Hunt said the government had a ‘strict commitment to opposing vaping or any liberalisation on laws.'

The amendment has emphasised the importance having a prescription to import or possess nicotine liquid. There are harsh penalties for vaping nicotine without a prescription, including fines up to $45,000 for each offence and jail terms up to 2 years.

What should vapers do?

To comply with the current laws, ATHRA recommends that vapers discuss your needs with your doctor who may assist by providing a prescription if it is appropriate

Vapers who have a nicotine prescription will continue to be able to import supplies under the TGA Personal Importation Scheme, which allows individuals to import up to 3 months supply of nicotine liquid at a time for personal use to quit smoking or prevent relapse.

ATHRA believes that low concentrations of nicotine for vaping should be available for sale and use in Australia as a consumer product (without a prescription), as in other western countries. Vaping is a life-saving alternative for smoker who can’t quit. It is unscientific and unethical to restrict access to a far safer alternative form of nicotine, while deadly tobacco cigarettes are freely available.

If your doctor is unwilling to help, there is a list of doctors who can assess your suitability for nicotine vaping and assist with making vaping legally available. Please click here for more.

Vapers should also consider making a submission to the TGA about the proposed amendment to hold  the Department to account. The amendment is available here along with guidelines here on how to respond. The deadline for submissions is 15 May 2020.

The proposed amendment is missing the opportunity to bring the importation, sale and possession of nicotine into line with other western countries. Instead of supporting smokers and vapers, the Health Department is choosing to make it harder for smokers to access nicotine and actively preventing the use of a safer alternative.

Posted by Colin Mendelsohn, colin@athra.org.au


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