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Government delivers another knockout punch to vapers

Posted on September 23, 2020

THE AUSTRALIAN GOVERNMENT has continued its vendetta against Australian smokers by making vaping nicotine even more difficult to access. Under the new interim announcement by the TGA (medicines regulator) today and the changes to the Customs (Prohibited Import) Regulations, vapers will need to get a doctor’s prescription and visit a pharmacy for nicotine supplies. The changes will commence on 1 January 2021 .

No other western country requires vapers to have a doctor’s prescription for nicotine liquid, yet alone visit a pharmacy to buy it

Reasons for the decision

The reasons given for the decision were flawed and show a strong bias in interpreting the evidence

  • Potential uptake of smoking in young adults (vaping is diverting young people from smoking)
  • Potential for adolescent brain development (no evidence in humans)
  • Uptake by non-smokers (rare)
  • Risks of nicotine addiction (minimal)
  • Unknown long-term effects (far less than smoking)
  • Insufficient evidence that vaping is effective as a quitting aid (more than sufficient evidence is available)

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.

How does the pharmacy model work?

  1. Vaper or smoker consults doctor and pays fee
  2. Doctor assesses the patient and discusses other options if appropriate
  3. If appropriate, doctor completes complex online form for an 'SAS-B' approval
  4. TGA decides if approval will be granted
  5. Patient returns for a prescription if the application is accepted and pays a second fee .
  6. Patient goes to pharmacist
  7. Pharmacist orders supplies from wholesaler
  8. Patient returns to pharmacist when product delivered and purchases it with a generous pharmacy markup
  9. Repeat yearly

Will it work?

The proposed plan is complex, time-consuming, costly and unworkable.

Vapers won't do it. Vapers currently require a simple nicotine prescription to vape legally but only about 1-2% have one. Very few will visit a doctor to get one. Vapers don’t see themselves as patients and don’t want medical treatment. Nicotine liquid is a consumer product, not a medicine.

GPs will not do it. Only 8 GPs in Australia have shown any interest in writing nicotine prescriptions. Most know very little about vaping and very few know how to write a prescription The new requirements are time-consuming and won’t be welcomed by GPs.

Pharmacist. The Pharmacy Guild stated in a submission earlier this year that it will not support the sale of vaporing products. Pharmacy staff have no expertise or training in vaping and will not be able to provide the expert support and advice of vape shops.

Nicotine imports to be banned

Vapers can still import nicotine with a prescription for now but this loophole will be closed soon with changes to the Customs (Prohibited Import) Regulations. Personal imports of nicotine will be banned from 1 January 2021 with a penalty of  up to $222,000 for offenders (even with a prescription).

Why the TGA has failed again

The TGA has missed an opportunity to have nicotine vaping products regulated in Australia. Australian consumers deserve manufacturing and safety standards, labelling standards, health warnings and child-proof containers. In spite of the Health Minster's concerns about dodgy products and child poisoning, no steps have been taken to correct these concerns.

The complex regulations will discourage smokers from switching to vaping. The black market will continue to thrive and Australia will continue to fall further behind other western countries in reducing smoking.

Australia’s retail vape industry will be decimated. Vape shops play a valuable role in helping smokers to quit. Staff are former smokers who vape and can give invaluable advice and support. Vape shops rely on e-liquid sales and will not survive without them.

If Australia's 520,000 vapers visit a doctor each year as advised, costs will range from $60-100 million per year for the taxpayer.

What can vapers do?

If you are concerned about these changes, please contact your local federal MP and senators with a  video call, visit or phone call and explain how this will affect you.

Make a submission to the TGA by 6 October explaining what you think of this  interim decision. A final decision will be issued later in the year.

Donate to ATHRA's campaign fund so we can continue to fight this on your behalf.


TGA interim decision

Information sheets for consumers, medical practitioners, pharmacists and Q&A

Posted by Colin Mendelsohn, 23 September 2020

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22 Replies to “Government delivers another knockout punch to vapers”

Matthew Landau

Mean while The Australian Govt continues it's Growing Addiction to Tobacco Excise!

At what Price for Saving the Lives of Millions!


What a load of rubbish can't see many people paying for a prescription that's what they are banking on so people go back to smoking

Steve King

If the TGA have made a new interim announcement allows overseas importation and through a Pharmacy with a Rx.

Why would the gov now want to make changes to the customs act ?

John Keating

Getting a scrip from a doctor is not an option , it's designed to fail they themselves know it. All it is going to create is anxiety people returning to smoking tobacco which has a huge amount of toxins.
If it's such a bad option why does the NHS advise it as a means of quitting tobacco.
John Keating


Well now we can go back to smoking ciggies and die of lung cancer thanks government. So blinkered in their response poorly considered legislative changes with dire consequences.


People will just start smoking cigarettes again. Does this new development has something to do with cigarette taxation and actually nothing with health?


The government wants to secure the huge tax revenue it receives from tobacco sales.
It certainly is safer to vape if you can obtain the proper quality vaping products.

Les Anderson

These so call politicians why don't they do their homework before making stupid rules like this or is it the attraction of the taxes that the tobacco industry brings in?.
At almost 73 years old I was a heavy smoker for 54 years and for the last 4 years have changed to vaping, I can now breath properly when I lay down to go to sleep of a night, I can taste and smell again and feel a whole lot better throughout my body.
I have tried all the doctors ways to give up smoking and failed because at my age it's just not so easy and I am slowly cutting down the strength of nicotine , I started a 12mg and am down to 6mg at the moment and when I think I am ready it will be cut down to 3mg.
I haven't just gone into vaping willy nilly I have studied vaping gathering all the online data from doctors especially the Royal College of Physicians and the top heart specialist in Canada and many other top doctors around the world and also much advice from vape shop owners who know what they are talking about.
How can politicians who know nothing about vaping make these silly laws?.


Ridiculous show how out of touch or government is ordering from overseas is already enough to hamper vapors as I myself used it for several yrs and now I'm back on the smokes due to the hassle to source e liquid with nicotine


Time to drop a couple hundred on a bottle of nicotine concentrate and plenty of PG, VG and flavours then?

Should last until this nonsense is dealt with by more reasonable people..

We need real leaders.
We don't need a damn nanny..


Smoked cigarettes for 32 years. Gave up after 2 months vaping. Now the government wants me to go back to cigarettes. What a backward government. What about international visitors. Legal to vape in most countries but they won't be allowed to in Australia. Totally ridiculous.

Joshua Lynam

Why can't Australia follow the framework the United Kingdom has in place for all the vapers it has been proven to work over there so i can't see why the same implementation would not work here they have proven that vaping has been saving many lives each year but Australian government just wants to screw every dollar out of every person by leaving smoking cigarettes as the only option to get your nicotine fix other than nrt products but since i took up vaping again over 5 weeks ago I haven't touched a single cigarette but I did also go out and get my prescription just to be on the safe side i had to travel 4 hours just to see the doctor but now I have it I have shown my local gp and she said that she didn't know that she was able to write a prescription for nicotine for vaping so I may have just changed things in my little backwards town in Queensland i just hope that she is willing to offer it to other patients who keep failing in their attempts to quit smoking i just want to be able to be assured that i will not ever have any issues getting my hands on nicotine

Edward Munns

Well, that decision probably just took 10 years off my life. Interesting I dont need a perscription to buy tobacco as there is actual evidence thats harmfull. Could it have something to do with the truckloads of extra tax you're making from it? This is bullshit.Thanks Australia.

Paul Boakes

This is the same gov that wants to get rid of Google and YouTube. They just want money and will do whatever they want. So that's democracy ? Why can't We The People VOTE ON IT ????


If the government wasn't taking in profits by the billions off the backs of tobacco smokers, this wouldn't be happening.. The government thinks it is missing out on revenue so is making it so hard to get vape liquid that you'll actually have to take up tobacco and then the government can profit off the ex vapers too..


The government needs to stop trying to control the people. If people want to smoke cigarettes or vapes just let them do it. We're all going to die eventually. If you are soooo worried about the "youth" smoking then just change legal age to purchase cigarettes and vapes from 18 years to 25 years.

Olivia Tolliday

What a joke! I switched to vaping from cigarettes in Feb 2020 after being a smoker for 20 years. Haven't had a cigarette since, best thing I've ever done. I wont be getting a prescription, how ridiculous! Its just the Government trying to make more money from us now that so many people have quit smoking. I'm already stocked up on liquid nicotine and I suggest everybody do the same!


Its not just vapers we need to be reaching, I think the medical profession will have a negative reaction to this as well. Have we started lobbying medical professional associations to join the fight?

Stewart Dooley

Why is vaping classed as a tobacco product in the first place ? No tobacco involved !
It's like classing soft drinks as alcoholic and putting them under the same regulations, just because if you add alcohol, they become alcoholic !
Just another example of Government control and profit mongering !
They don't want anyone to quit ! just keep paying the money for smokes, they know they're dealing with addicts who will find the money some how.
Don't forget their buddies that make all the patches and crap, where there's a dollar involved, there's a politician with his hand out.

Adam McCarthy

Its political manslaughter 101 – deny the healthy alternative to force vapers back to smoking nicotine. Australia is NOT a democracy, it has not been for a very long time, it is a dictatorship!

David Heathcote

As a former smoker, the advent of the vape made at last my addiction something I could overcome after 40 years and many failed attempts to give up. Ten years ago I persevered with vapes and have not smoked since. When I switched to vapes my breathing became OK again and I felt considerably and very noticeably better all over!

It's a very grave and unwise move indeed to play around with people's ability to use vapes containing nicotine by the use of inaccurate forms of dogmatic legislation.


Unbeknown to us, my daughter (12) was introduced to vapes through a friend’s older brother. She was addicted to nicotine very quickly and found she could obtain more via Snapchat dealers. Late one night she snuck out of the house to pick up a fruity trendy child attracting vape of a dealer. She was drugged via a vape and raped. She knows of other cases but the children are scared to go through the police. They know they should not vape and they are hooked. She said just about all kids are vaping. It’s a massive problem and they are easy targets to paedophiles.
I know you won’t publish this BUT please think of our next generation of CHILDREN.

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