E-Liquid Prescriptions Are Coming to Australia Soon: Here’s How They’ll Work

E-Liquid Prescriptions Are Coming to Australia Soon: Here’s How They’ll Work
E-Liquid Prescriptions Are Coming to Australia Soon: Here’s How They’ll Work

On 23rd September, the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) issued a set of proposed changes that will affect how Australian vapers will obtain e-liquid with nicotine when Health Minister Greg Hunt’s proposed e-liquid import ban goes into effect at the beginning of 2021.

The changes would make it illegal to buy or possess e-liquid or e-cigarettes with nicotine unless you have a doctor’s prescription. In addition, the proposed changes would also require you to obtain a prescription before purchasing many other types of nicotine products including heat-not-burn products, snuff and chewing tobacco.

Tobacco products intended for smoking – and traditional nicotine replacement products like gums and patches – would remain available for adults to purchase through standard retail channels.

In this article, we’ll provide an overview of how Australia’s new e-liquid prescription plan would work in practice. First, though, let’s discuss what you need to do right now if you want the government to hear your thoughts before the plan takes effect.

How to Comment on Australia’s Proposed Vaping and E-Liquid Regulations

Adult vapers in Australia are understandably very unhappy about regulations that would make e-liquid more difficult to buy than cigarettes. These regulations run so contrary to the goal of public health that it completely boggles the mind, and this is your one opportunity to say that to your lawmakers and health officials.

  • Use this link to submit your comments to the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
  • Use this link to submit your comments to your Parliamentary representatives.
  • Use this link to donate to the Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association (ATHRA).

Remember that, as of now, there is every reason to believe that Australian vapers will lose the ability to import e-liquid privately on 1st January and will be forced to obtain their e-liquid from pharmacies. Again, this is your one and only opportunity to comment on the proposed regulations before they take effect.

How Will the TGA E-Liquid Prescription Plan Work?

In a nation where taxpayers foot so much of the bill for public health, it is difficult to believe that the Australian government would institute any regulation intended to restrict adult access to e-liquid and drive existing vapers back to smoking – and yet, that’s exactly what the proposed e-liquid prescription plan would be likely to do. Here’s how you would obtain your e-liquid once the plan takes effect.

  • You would first need to consult with your GP. You’d pay a fee for the service, and your doctor would most likely try to steer you toward traditional nicotine replacement products instead.
  • If your doctor agrees that you should receive a prescription for e-liquid, he or she will submit a form to the TGA requesting approval. The TGA may or may not approve the request.
  • If the request is approved, you’ll return to your doctor’s office to pick up your prescription. You’ll likely pay another fee at that time.
  • You’ll take your prescription to a pharmacy. The pharmacy will either have a limited supply of e-liquid in stock or will have to order the e-liquid on your behalf. Needless to say, you’re not likely to have many flavour or brand choices.
  • You’ll buy e-liquid that you don’t enjoy as much as the e-liquid you’re currently using, and you’ll pay significantly more for it than what you currently pay.

What Is the Rationale Behind the TGA E-Liquid Prescription Plan?

So, why would the Australian government make e-liquid more difficult to obtain when medical professionals almost universally agree that vaping is less risky than smoking? If you ask us, it’s pretty difficult to justify such a move. However, the TGA website offers the following reasons.

  • Vaping may appeal to young adults who would otherwise be unlikely to initiate nicotine use. Controlling access to vaping products helps to ensure that the only people who can buy those products will be adult smokers who truly need them.
  • Australian health authorities would prefer that you use traditional nicotine replacement products to quit smoking. If you need to see a doctor to access vaping products, he or she will discuss traditional smoking cessation therapies with you before writing a prescription for e-liquid.
  • Some e-cigarettes contain very high levels of nicotine.
  • E-cigarettes that contain nicotine are addictive.
  • The long-term safety profile of vaping isn’t fully known.

Some of these reasons seem to provide fairly thin justification for a policy that will largely ensure Australia’s smokers will continue to smoke, but that’s the word straight from the TGA.

What Are Medical Professionals Saying About Australia’s E-Liquid Import Ban and Prescription Plan?

As you can probably imagine, members of Australia’s vaping community are quite unhappy about Australia’s plan to restrict access to vaping products. What you may not realize, though, is that medical professionals aren’t particularly happy about it either.

  • Dr. Colin Mendelsohn of ATHRA says that vapers are unlikely to get on board. Australian law already requires vapers to obtain prescriptions for nicotine before importing e-liquid from abroad, but only a tiny handful of people actually do so. People simply don’t want to seek medical treatment in order to obtain nicotine.
  • The idea of prescribing e-liquid has very low support among Australian doctors. ATHRA maintains a list of doctors that Australian vapers can visit to get their prescriptions. At the time of writing, the list includes just eight doctors.
  • The Australian Pharmacy Guild does not support e-liquid prescriptions and does not support the sale of vaping products in pharmacies.

The sad fact is that vaping appears to have very low support among health practitioners in Australia. Although it’s certain that some pharmacies will get on board with e-liquid imports – it’s likely to be hugely profitable, after all – it appears that obtaining e-liquid once the import ban is enacted will not be as simple as visiting your usual doctor and dropping by your nearest pharmacy.

Submit Your Comments on Australia’s Vaping Regulations Before It’s Too Late

Australia’s proposed e-liquid import ban and prescription plan are wrong for public health. They will undoubtedly create a black market for vape juice and will drive thousands of vapers back to smoking. We can’t stress enough that if you disagree with the proposed regulations, this is your one and only opportunity to say so. Submit your comments to the TGA and to your elected representatives right away.

Jason Artman
Jason Artman is the owner and author of eCig One. A full-time freelance writer for more than a decade, Jason’s clients have included corporations such as Intel and eBay. Jason’s online articles have been viewed hundreds of millions of times. After quitting smoking and switching to vaping in 2010, Jason turned his professional attention to the vaping industry and now works with some of the world’s largest vaping and CBD brands. When writing for his own website, Jason focuses his attention on helping business owners with their vape marketing efforts.

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