Australia Nicotine Ban - Proposed Changes to Nicotine Scheduling.

On September 23 2020 the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) released proposed changes to nicotine scheduling. You can read the full release here.

A quick recap of the proposed Australian vape ban:

In June 2020 the Australian Minister for Health, Greg Hunt announced a ban on the importation of all vaping products containing nicotine effective from July 1 2020 with potential fines of $200,000 for anyone caught ordering nicotine once the ban came into effect. 

Minister Hunt tried to pass this ban with less than 10 days warning and no consultation with the public or wider government. What came next was an incredible backlash from hundreds of thousands of Australian Vapers. On June 26th, Minister Hunt announced a deferral of the ban to January 1st 2021 to give more time for planning and public consultation. 

Proposed changes: 
1) An amendment to the poisons standard

This proposal would mean nicotine (for human use) would change from a Schedule 7 Substance (Dangerous Poison) to a Schedule 4 substance  (Prescription only medicine). In addition, there would be a new "Appendix D" created which would outline various standards for nicotine products including toxicity (strength) labeling and child resistant packaging. 

2) Personal Importation Scheme To Remain

You would still be able to use the ‘personal importation scheme’ under the Therapeutic Goods Act to order online from your usual supplier 3 months’ supply and a maximum amount of 15 months’ supply over a 12 month period.  You will however, be required to have a prescription from your doctor.

You would also be able to fill your prescription at your local community pharmacy, although it is likely that any nicotine vaping products would need to go through a robust TGA approval prior to being made available for domestic sale. 

Process flowchart from the TGA: 

flowchart including the steps for dispensing prescription e-cigarette nicotine

The Good Parts The Bad Parts The Unknowns
  • Personal Nicotine imports remain. 
  • Nicotine removed from Schedule 7 poison. 
  • More common sense than the June 2020 nic ban. 
  • Local supply of nicotine (although in pharmacy only)
  • Prescription required to vape.
  • Significantly less accessible than tobacco.
  • TGA is still skeptical on the benefit vaping can have on public health. 
  • Australian Doctors ability to prescribe nicotine for up to 500,000 vapers. 
  • Specific "Appendix D" requirements for nicotine products. 
Our view on vaping regulation:

The rest of the developed world unanimously acknowledges that nicotine vaping products are significantly less harmful than smoking tobacco.

We believe vaping should be

  1. Regulated as consumer product (with no tobacco excise or tax).  
  2. Accessible everywhere tobacco is available
  3. Encouraged for adult tobacco smokers to use as a better alternative to cigarettes.  
FAQ

1. What are the proposed changes ?

  • Under the proposed changes, nicotine products for human use will be rescheduled to a prescription medicine and require a doctors prescription for possession. 
  • It would be illegal to possess nicotine products without a prescription from an Australian-registered medical practitioner.

2. When will the change occur?

  • The wording from the TGA is "early 2021" to allow consumers, health practitioners and businesses time to prepare for the change. This implies it will be later than the previously communicated Jan 1st 2021 and several media report have mentioned June - July 2021. 

3. What exactly will this change mean for me as a vaper?

  • You would still be able to import nicotine (subject to Appendix d), however, you would need to obtain a prescription from your doctor first. Click here for a list of Australian doctors who are experienced at prescribing nicotine. . 

4. What happens next?

  • The TGA will commence a series of consultation with the public and industry on the proposed changes.
  • The closing date for public submissions is on November 6 2020,
  • A final decision is expected in Mid December 2020. 

5. What can i do to get a better outcome for Australian vapers?

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