The Albanese Government's vaping reforms, which it describes as “world leading”, officially come into effect today.

Stringent new regulations on the sale, supply, manufacture, importation, and commercial possession of non-therapeutic vapes are now in place.

From July 1, the sale, supply, manufacture, importation, and commercial possession of non-therapeutic vapes are now prohibited. Severe penalties are imposed for violations.

People seeking therapeutic vapes must obtain a prescription from a GP, and will only be able to purchase approved vapes from pharmacies, with strict controls on nicotine concentrations, dispensing quantities, packaging, and flavours (restricted to tobacco, menthol, and mint). 

From 1 October, the requirement for a GP prescription will be lifted, allowing pharmacists to dispense therapeutic vapes directly to individuals after a health consultation.

The reforms have garnered strong support from various public health and professional bodies, including the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia, the Australian Medical Association, and the Cancer Council. 

Federal and state authorities are now empowered to enforce these laws. Earlier this year, the Australian Border Force and Therapeutic Goods Administration seized nearly 2.9 million illegal vapes. 

“Recreational vaping is a scourge,” says Health Minister Mark Butler.

“It is a public health menace, particularly for children and for young people.” 

He said that the legislation returns vapes to their original purpose: as therapeutic aids to help smokers quit. 

“The best time to have done this was five years ago. The second-best time is right now,” Butler says.

While the reforms mark a significant step in public health, opinions on the new regulations are mixed. Some experts express concern that removing the prescription requirement might weaken the control over a highly addictive product.

Nicola Rahman, a PhD researcher at Griffith University, says; “The suggested approach would be asking pharmacists to sell an unapproved medicine for therapeutic purposes. In contrast, current alternative nicotine replacement therapies have undergone rigorous scientific safety trials.”

Associate Professor Becky Freeman from the University of Sydney views the legislation positively, saying; “This world first legislation shows Australia has made decisive action in preventing vaping and protecting public health, especially for young people”. 

The legislation aims to significantly reduce youth access to vapes, which has been alarmingly high. 

Statistics from 2019 showed that around 10 per cent of Australians aged 14-17 had tried vapes, but that figure had nearly tripled by 2022-23.

Professor Coral Gartner from the University of Queensland has praised the government for the balanced approach. 

“Minister Butler should be applauded for finding a workable solution that ensures health practitioner oversight of vaping product supply while reducing a key barrier for people who smoke from accessing products that can help them quit smoking,” Prof Gartner said.