The Journey After October 1

Posted on May 28, 2021

From October 1, 2021, nicotine liquid for vaping will be officially ‘schedule 4 prescription only medicine’. How does that affect you if you are vaper in Australia? Well, in short, you are likely to l face more paperwork, confused doctors, and longer wait times at your GP.

Sadly, smokers in Australia are used to facing labyrinths on their way to quitting, but proposed TGA regulations are set to make this even more arduous. So, here’s a snapshot of what vapers can expect and why this prescription model won’t work.

Get ready to wait and waste time and money

An increasing number of Australian smokers are seeing their friends and family successfully quit smoking using vaping. Naturally, more and more want to do the same, improving their wellbeing and saving a lot of money. But unlike in most western democracies, the Australian wannabe-vaper must first jump through several hoops.

From 1 October, they will need to find a doctor that can prescribe vaping (there are very few), have a consultation (at a cost and potentially a wait period to get in), secure a prescription for nicotine (which the doctor is not allowed to legally specify), find a pharmacist (who will hopefully be able to import and supply it), and finally (after 1-2 weeks) the quitting smoker can vape once their prescription is finally filled.

But the journey doesn’t end there. Vapers will have to go to for more follow-up appointments with their GP to renew their right to stop smoking every six-months.

Quite the contradiction

Doctors don’t have it easier under the incoming regime. State and territory tobacco advertising restrictions apply to novel nicotine products, which means those companies that produce nicotine cannot legally communicate with doctors. Because of this it’s fair to say the doctor may not be making an informed decision about these products and is essentially writing a blank cheque for nicotine when they prescribe vaping.

What other ‘medicine’ can be prescribed this way? Would a patient ever get a prescription that reads ‘antibiotics – whichever you like/know about/can get’? No. But when it comes to vaping that is what doctors will be forced to do.

Missing the point

Vaping sticks out like a sore thumb within the medical prescription model for one obvious reason – it’s not a medicine that should equire exact prescription, dosage, and titration. As in the UK, new Zealand and other country’s vaping should be a consumer product because it is the most effective quit smoking aid.

It could be   a rough ride.

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