From tomorrow, 1 October, a doctor’s prescription will be required to legally obtain vaping products, including e-cigarettes, pods and liquid nicotine, from overseas websites.
These changes made by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) aim to prevent children, adolescents and young adults from taking-up nicotine e-cigarettes while still allowing current smokers to access these products for smoking cessation under the supervision of their doctor if appropriate.
“The Australian Council on Smoking and Health (ACOSH) strongly supports any measure that will effectively stem the flow of illegal disposable e-cigarettes into Australia that are being used by an increasing number of children and teenagers,” said Maurice Swanson, ACOSH Chief Executive.
“There is growing concern about the use of e-cigarettes among children and teenagers. This is reflected in a 10-fold increase in seizures of illicit e-cigarette products in NSW alone and increasing media reports of use and confiscations of e-cigarettes in schools Australia-wide.
“Independent research conducted by the Australian National University has confirmed that e-cigarette use among non-smokers is associated with a three-fold risk of smoking uptake population-wide.
“It is also important to note that no e-cigarette product has been approved by the TGA as safe and effective for smoking cessation.
“There are serious concerns about possible harms from e-cigarettes and their long-term safety and health effects are still unknown. Nicotine is also harmful to the developing adolescent brain, which can impact memory, concentration and behaviour.
“The evidence supporting e-cigarettes as a population-level smoking cessation aid is also very limited.
“Over the last 40 years, Australia has led the world in reducing smoking, including among school children but the use of addictive e-cigarettes could undermine this important achievement.
“The TGA announced these changes nine months ago, so none of the changes should be a surprise to adults using e-cigarettes.
“Commercial interests, assisted by lobbyists for Big Tobacco, have conducted a relentless campaign to undermine Australia’s tobacco control policies and make e-cigarettes available as an ordinary consumer item.[i],[ii],[iii]
Australia’s border force will now play a crucial role in detecting illegally imported e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine and are expected to allocate additional resources to this work. State and Territory governments will continue to enforce restrictions on the illegal sale of e-cigarettes without a doctor’s prescription.
“It will be critical for the TGA to monitor the impact and effectiveness of this nicotine prescription model and continue to ensure that children and young people are comprehensively protected from a lifetime of nicotine addiction.
“It is essential that Australian governments are not distracted by commercial interests and continue to focus on evidence-based strategies that have been proven to reduce the prevalence of smoking in both adults and children and reduce the burden of tobacco-caused disease on the health system and the community,” Mr Swanson said.
The Australian Council on Smoking and Health (ACOSH) is an independent, non-government, not for profit coalition established in 1971, and represents a further 35 prominent health and community organisations with a shared concern about smoking and its harmful consequences.
ACOSH has been a leading advocate for all the regulatory and legislative changes to reduce the impact of smoking on the Australian community.
[i] Australian Financial Review. The Secret Money Trail Behind Vaping. 20 Feb 2021.
[ii] ABC online. Metadata reveals medical charity ATHRA received assistance from PR company linked to vaping campaign. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-03-26/metadata-links-medcial-charity-athra-to-pr-company/13229992
[iii] Safran, J. (2021). Puff piece. Camberwell, VIC: Hamish Hamilton Australia. https://www.penguin.com.au/books/puff-piece-9781760890155