The Australian Govt. is Reviewing Recommendations For Harsher Vape Laws

The Therapeutic Goods Australia (TGA) has recently made a submission to the government suggesting a ban on flavoured vaping products, warning labels on product packages and a permit requirement for importing the products. A few days later it reported that  the federal government was “actively considering” its recommendations.

As of October 2021, vapers in Australia are only able to purchase vaping products from pharmacies via prescription. Anyone caught violating these harsh measures faces steep fines, and in some cases even imprisonment. Tobacco harm reduction experts have long argued that this measure will just lead to a thriving black market of the products, and a recent report has confirmed just that.

Commissioned by Independent Economics in February 2023, the report revealed that vaping has actually tripled in the last three years. In fact, there are currently 1.3 million vaping adults in Australia, equating to 6.5% of the adult population. The survey that informed the report consisted of 3,056 adults, and it revealed that only a mere 8% of existing vapers have a prescription.

Moreover, the Head of Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration Associate Professor John Skerrit has recently contradicted himself when admitting that “the current regime doesn’t seem effective at all” yet refused to take responsibility for it: “we should be proud of what we have done on vaping”.

However, not only does the TGA not regret its tobacco control strategy, but it clearly wants to take it further. The Sydney Morning Herald has recently reported that the TGA has proposed new measures via a submission to a public consultation. Health Minister Mark Butler who received over 4000 submissions, said all health ministers were “determined to stamp out this public health menace.”

The Australian Govt. is considering the TGA’s recommendations
Meanwhile a few days later the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) updated its review of proposed reforms to vape regulations. It said that the federal government is now “actively considering” its suggestions.

The Conversation revealed that the TGA’s recommendations have not been released at this time, but a summary of the review has. “It restated the review’s scope, focused on changes to border controls for nicotine vaping products, minimum quality and safety standards – including the idea of categorizing nicotine vaping products as therapeutic goods.” Butler has been increasingly vocal about improving border controls in order to enforce existing laws. “Nothing is off the table.”

Meanwhile, a recent study published in BMJ Open had confirmed that Australia’s harsh and outdated vape policy, has stalled the country’s smoking cessation efforts. Titled, “Impact of vaping introduction on cigarette smoking in six jurisdictions with varied regulatory approaches to vaping: an interrupted time series analysis,” the study analyzed smoking rates and cigarette consumption in 6 jurisdictions with different regulatory environments for vaping: Alberta, Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia (in Canada), UK and Australia.

Of these Australia has the harshest vape regulations and subsequently the lowest vaping rates. However it also has one of the lowest rates of progress with regards to declining smoking rates.