Aussie Government Crack Down on Disposable Vaping

Australia has initiated a nationwide crackdown on disposable vapes to combat the escalating rates of nicotine addiction among young individuals. Starting from January 1st, the federal government has implemented the initial phase of its comprehensive strategy, beginning with a prohibition on the importation of single use vapes. The primary objective of this ban is to address the increasing prevalence of nicotine dependency in the youth demographic.

The Changes Start Now

Effective immediately, single-use nicotine vapes ordered before the new year and awaiting delivery will be deemed illegal. Nevertheless, the government has granted retailers the ability to sell disposable vapes ordered before the new year, provided they are devoid of nicotine or therapeutic claims.

In an effort to support smoking cessation and tackle nicotine dependency, doctors and nurse practitioners can now prescribe therapeutic vapes. To streamline the process, the Therapeutic Goods Administration has simplified the approval procedure, allowing healthcare professionals to submit an online form for swift evaluation.

Vaping is Not Popular with GPs

Currently, fewer than 10% of general practitioners have sought approval from the Therapeutic Goods Administration to prescribe therapeutic vapes. However, with the simplified process, health professionals are expected to see an increase in individuals seeking assistance for nicotine-related issues.

Nick Zwar, chairperson of an RACGP expert advisory group, acknowledged the challenges of informing health professionals about the new regulations and predicted a gradual increase in individuals seeking help.

While the purchasing and importation of nicotine vapes without a prescription have been illegal since mid-2021, vaping rates among young people have continued to rise. A recent study published in the Medical Journal of Australia revealed that over 4,000 teenagers participated, with one in four having vaped—an increase from 10% in a separate study conducted three years ago.

Numbers of Young People Vaping Surges

The surge in vaping rates among the youth has been attributed by the government and health experts to the proliferation of a black market for nicotine vapes, often falsely labelled as nicotine-free and illicitly sold. Becky Freeman, an Associate Professor in Public Health at the University of Sydney, emphasised the importance of stricter import restrictions to curb this trend.

Phase 2 Commences in March

The second phase of the crackdown, commencing on March 1, will encompass the ban on refillable non-therapeutic vapes and the personal importation of therapeutic vapes from overseas. Additionally, regulations governing flavours, nicotine concentration levels, and packaging will be reinforced and rigorously enforced.