Are e-cigarettes legal in Australia?

E-cigarettes are a battery operated device that has become a popular alternative to regular smoking. They are similar to their other smoking counterparts except they don’t tobacco to create smoke. They actually use heat to turn liquid into vapour that is inhaled by the user. The liquids that are used are referred to e-liquids in Australia and can come with or without nicotine along with many different flavours.

The devices come in many different styles with some resembling cigars or regular cigarettes while others look like pens or USB sticks. These products can be bought online from an overseas distributor which raises safety concerns from the Australian public due to the lack of regulation on the products. While most countries don’t have any regulations about the design or approval of the product, there are many that are catching up with the trend and are beginning to put in their own regulations which prohibits the sale and use of the devices.

Using e-cigarettes in Australia

As of the writing of this article, it is illegal to use, sell or possess an e-cigarette that contains nicotine. You can however import the nicotine based e-liquids if they are in compliance with the Therapeutic Goods Personal Importation Scheme that does require a medical prescription. Many doctors are not willing to prescribe these products as they remain unapproved within Australia though.

You should always check with your individual state as well to double check that there are no regulations on nicotine products being imported. As each state does differ they may also have certain restrictions based around importation and use of nicotine products. Generally speaking it is legal to sell e-cigarettes that don’t contain nicotine as long as the product isn’t marketed as therapeutic and an alternative to help people stop smoking tobacco based products.

State rules

It is currently illegal to sell a product that resembles a tobacco product within the states of South Australia, Western Australia and New South Wales. Many e-cigarettes products fall under this category making the local distributors having to set up shop in the neighbouring states.

New South Wales and Queensland are aware of the rising trend of the products are the only states that have laws that target the sale of use of the products. It is illegal to sell them to minors as well as displaying them in retail stores. Victoria and Queensland have also banned them in non-smoking areas altogether as smoke free zones refer to all products including nicotine free. These rules will also apply for any nicotine product that will be developed in the future as well.

Can they help to quit smoking?

The effectiveness of a product in regards to giving up tobacco based products can only be assessed by the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) and as of right now has not occurred. Due to the little amount of data present done with these products you can’t say for sure their effectiveness contrary to what certain brands advertise.

There are many conflicting results in their ability to stop people from smoking. People have suggested that they are a safer alternative to tobacco while other research has shown that the renormalisation of the smoking habit which can lead to people not wanting to quit and encouraging non-smokers to follow suit.

Due to the lack of evidence and the little research that has been done on the products the TGA is yet to approve of e-cigarettes being an effective quitting tool. Making you sure understand all aspects is important as you shouldn’t go off the sole claims of the companies that are selling these products.

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24 Jan 2019


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