Australia’s ACT Govt. Passes Further Restrictions on Vaping Products

The Health Legislation Amendment Bill 2022, passed this week by the ACT Legislative Assembly, aims to reduce availability of vapes and increase enforcement. 

Amongst other things the new bill “stops the sale of e-cigarettes from vending machines; enables stronger compliance testing to enforce the prohibition on sale of e-cigarettes to people under the age of 18; and extends therapeutic goods laws to enable action to be taken against sole traders,” reported Canberra Weekly.

CEO of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Association ACT (ATODA), Dr. Devin Bowles, believes that the local Govt. is on the right track. “The government is aiming to minimise the harm caused in our community from smoking and vaping, particularly for young Canberrans. Reducing supply is a critical component of minimising harm. Through these legal changes, ACT Government officials will have the ability to check if e-cigarettes are being sold to minors, and to remove the ability for sale through vending machines.”

“Keeping e-cigarettes out of the hands of children and young people is one of the most important public health challenges of our time, and the community is up against powerful commercial interests,” he said.

Regulating sensibly works
On the other hand, tobacco harm reduction experts have been urging the Australian Government to adopt a similar tobacco harm reduction strategy as New Zealand, in place of the current harsh ban on alternative nicotine products.

Australian Public health expert and tobacco harm reduction advocate Dr. Colin Mendelsohn has previously said that while not perfect, New Zealand’s regulations are a good start and Australia should really follow suit. “The NZ regulations put Australia to shame. They are based on the evidence rather than politics and ideology. They are a model for good public health policy on vaping and will save lives.”

“Australia’s requirement for nicotine prescriptions is complex, expensive and unnecessary and makes it harder to access vaping products than cigarettes. Is that really what Greg Hunt wants?” concluded Mendelsohn.

Restrictions tend to have a counter effect
Similarly in a recent joint statement, the Australian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS), the Master Grocers Association (MGA), and the Australian Lottery and Newsagents Association (ALNA), have called on the Australian Government to set in place a regulatory model that is similar to the one in New Zealand.

“The more you restrict access to a product, the more likely that product ends up on the black market and we are seeing signs of that. Disposable vapes are illegal, yet you see them frequently. At the moment, there’s no proper regulation to control who imports the product and what’s in the product – it’s all coming from overseas,” said AACS CEO, Theo Foukkare.