Electronic cigarettes

ACOSH recommends E-cigarettes be regulated in the same way as combustible tobacco products - until scientific evidence regarding their safety and efficacy is available.

Electronic cigarettes are an alternative nicotine delivery device that are also termed ‘e‐cigarettes’, ‘e‐cigs’ or ‘electronic nicotine delivery systems’ (ENDS).  E-cigarettes initially emerged in China in 2003 and have since become widely available globally; particularly over the internet.

E‐cigarettes have been marketed as cheap and healthier alternatives to cigarettes as well as to look and feel like cigarettes for use in places where smoking is not permitted since they do not produce smoke.  The level of nicotine in the cartridges may vary and some also contain flavourings.

There is no side‐stream smoke. However, some nicotine vapour is released into the air as the user is exhaling.  Many e‐cigarettes are designed to resemble traditional tobacco cigarettes and are designed to replicate smoking behaviour.

Health effects

The short and long-term health effects of e-cigarettes are unknown.  Products on the market in Australia have not been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for safety, quality and efficacy.  Furthermore, the World Health Organization (WHO) does not currently consider e-cigarettes to be a legitimate tobacco cessation therapy.

ACOSH believes that the precautionary principle should be applied in the regulation of e-cigarettes in the same way as combustible tobacco products – until scientific evidence regarding their safety and efficacy as tobacco cessation therapy is available.

Legislation in Australia

In WA, e-cigarettes are not legally sold.  Also, the Australian Capital Territory and Queensland Governments have implemented legislation to regulate e-cigarettes in exactly the same way as combustible tobacco products.

Read the Department of Health WA Principles that Underpin the Current Policy and Regulatory Approach to Electronic Cigarettes (E-Cigarettes) in Australia

In 2017, an applicant made a submission to the TGA to exempt nicotine from Schedule 7 at concentrations of 3.6 per cent or less for self-administration with an electronic nicotine delivery system (Electronic cigarette) for ‘tobacco harm reduction’ purposes.  After careful deliberation, the TGA’s Expert Panel decided that the current scheduling of nicotine remains appropriate.

Read the TGA’s final decision at https://www.tga.gov.au/book-page/21-nicotine-0

Read the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHRMC) Position statement on Electronic cigarettes

The Vaporised Nicotine Products Bill 2017  is a private senators’ bill introduced by Senators David Leyonhjelm and Malcom Roberts, seeking to exclude electronic cigarettes from regulation by the TGA and make them legal in Australia.

ACOSH welcomed the decision by the Community Affairs Legislation Committee that recommended the Senate not pass the Bill until further scientific evaluation of the efficacy and safety of electronic cigarettes and related products had been undertaken.

More information

Please read the following documents to find out more about e-cigarettes:

If you have any questions, concerns about e-cigarettes or would like to report a breach of legislation, please contact ACOSH on acosh@acosh.org or 08 6365 5436.