As of next year, the importation of vapes will be banned in Australia, making it the harshest ruling around vaping of any country in the world. Here’s what you need to know about the new rules.
The federal government has announced a hefty crackdown on vaping around Australia, making it illegal to buy, use and sell as of January 1st 2024.
The new laws have been designed to stop single-use vapes from being manufactured, advertised and sold around the country, and will make Australia the first nation to implement such strict laws.
Earlier this year the federal government attempted a softer approach to curb vaping habits, which saw little success. So now, the devices will be prohibited to anyone without a script, which GPs say won’t be easy to get your hands on.
Here’s everything you need to know about the new rules.
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What are the new rules?
The changes on January 1st are the first phase of the changes, which involve a ban on the importation of disposable single-use vapes.
Throughout 2024, legislation around vapes will continue to tighten, including “to limit flavours, reduce permissible nicotine concentrations and require pharmaceutical packaging.”
Rules will also “prevent domestic manufacture, advertisement, supply and commercial possession of non-therapeutic and disposable single-use vapes to ensure comprehensive controls on vapes across all levels of the supply chain.” However, the government also notes there will be a transition period for businesses to comply with the new requirements.
The second phase of the bans will hit on March 1st 2024, and include the following changes:
- Cessation of the personal importation of vapes
- Ban on the importation of non-therapeutic vapes
- Requirement for therapeutic vape importers and manufacturers to notify the Therapeutic Goods Administration of their product’s compliance with the relevant product standards
- Requirement for importers to obtain a licence and permit from the Australian Government’s Office of Drug Control before the products are imported
To assist with enforcing the ban, the Australian Border Force will receive a grant of $25 million, and the Therapeutic Goods Administration will get $59.6 million over the next two years, which will work to strengthen product standards for therapeutic vapes.
Why are vapes being banned?
While millennials grew up surrounded by anti-smoking campaigns, which effectively weaned an entire generation off smoking, gen z did not, which meant they were easily romanced by the introduction of vapes – particularly as they were sold as a ‘healthier’ alternative.
In a statement about the changes, Health and Aged Care Minister Mark Butler said „Vaping is creating a whole new generation of nicotine dependency in our community.”
„Vaping was sold to governments and communities around the world as a therapeutic product to help long-term smokers quit. It was not sold as a recreational product – especially not one targeted to our kids but that is what it has become.
„We’re taking tough action because this is a major public health issue. Vaping is a gateway to smoking and smoking remains the leading preventable cause of death and disease in Australia.“
According to a statement from the Department of Health and Aged Care, a new Special Access Scheme pathway will come into effect too, in line with the January bans. This will “Facilitate improved access to therapeutic vapes, whereby all medical practitioners and nurse practitioners will be able to prescribe their use where clinically appropriate.”
Health implications of vaping
At this stage, the full extent to which vaping can damage your health is not known, but it is significant. Vaping can lead to seizures, popcorn lung, impotence, sleep disorders, shrunken testicles, reduced sperm count and damaged skin. And the list of side effects is constantly growing.
Data from the first quarter of 2023 showed one in seven 14- to 17-year-olds and one in five 18- to 24-year-olds are current vapers.
There is also strong evidence that “young Australians who vape are around three times more likely to take up tobacco smoking compared to young Australians who have never vaped.”
The new legislation aims to turn that statistic around, and find a solution to this new wave of nicotine dependency that has taken over the nation.