Is it legal to buy and use liquid nicotine?

Under Australian law, liquid nicotine is classified as a Schedule 7 dangerous poison (S7) under the Poison Standard 2016. Under state laws, it is illegal to buy, possess or use an S7 poison without a licence or specific authorisation, although the laws vary a little from state to state: NSW, QLD, VIC.

However, if liquid nicotine is for a 'therapeutic use' (eg to quit, reduce smoking or to prevent relapse) there are exemptions which allow it to be used legally. If used for a therapeutic purpose, it is classified as a Schedule 4 product and can be purchased with a prescription from a registered Australian medical practitioner.
 

NSW state laws

State laws regulate issues such as sale, use in public places, age limits on sale, display and promotion of e-cigarettes. in NSW the following rules apply. 

NSW regulations

 Sale

 

 

 

Liquid nicotine cannot be sold without approval from the Ministry of Health

Sale of e-cigarettes (without nicotine) is legal but products must not make a therapeutic claim such as ‘this product will help you quit or reduce smoking’)

Vending machines: restricted to areas > 18 year old areas eg hotels, clubs or casino areas

Sale from a single point of sale in each retail outlet (one cash register). No sale from booth, tent, market stall or temporary structure

 Public
 places

Can be used in smokefree indoor and outdoor areas

Individual establishments can develop own policies to restrict use

 Display

Products or advertisements cannot be seen by the public from inside or outside the premises.

 Promotion   

No free samples, sponsorship or shopper loyalty programs

 Cars

No use in cars with children under 16y

 Youth

 

 

Sale to minors (<18y) is an offence

No purchase by adults of e-cigarettes for a minor

NSW Police have the power to seize an e-cigarette that is in the possession of a person under the age of 18.


For more information: NSW Fact Sheet: Are electronic cigarettes legal in NSW?
  
Legislation: Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Regulation 2008 (NSW); Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 1966; Public Health Tobacco Act 2008; Smoke-free Environment Act 2000 (NSW)
 

Purchasing nicotine in Australia

Liquid nicotine can also be legally supplied by Australian compounding pharmacies, although very few currently provide this service. Each individual order requires a doctor’s prescription and each supply must be individually prepared. The advantage of locally purchased nicotine is the guarantee of quality control to Australian pharmacy standards, faster delivery and local access if any problems arise.

This service is available in Australia through a company called Nicopharm*. Patients can order liquid nicotine at the Nicopharm website, a doctor issues a prescription which is sent to a compounding pharmacy and the order is delivered to the patient. The prescription and delivery are provided free and the pricing is very competitive. Prices range from $20-30 per 30ml bottle, depending on how many bottles you order at a time. The nicotine is prepared in a number of strengths (from 6-24mg/ml) with propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin and a range of flavourings in an ISO class 7 sterile cleanroom laboratory.

Other compounding pharmacy services may also prepare nicotine solutions. Please email me if you know of any: email.

Liquid nicotine can also also be ILLEGALY sourced 'under-the-counter' in many places without a prescription. Purchase of illegal nicotine is STRONGLY DISCOURAGED. There are no guarantees of product quality or safety or that the liquid is what it claims to be. It is also an offence under state laws.
 

Importing nicotine from oversease-juice 4 single.jpg

Nicotine can be legally imported to quit or reduce smoking under the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) Personal Importation Scheme.  You may import 3 months at a time for personal use, up to a total of 15 months’ supply per year. The law requires you to have a prescription from a doctor which you keep in case it is required. However, the TGA warns that there may be risks in importing nicotine from overseas suppliers.

Nicotine can be imported premixed with PG and VG for refilling e-cigarettes with tanks or in prefilled cartridges for use in 'cigalike' e-cigarettes.

Some websites recommended as reliable by regular vapers are:
www.healthcabin.com
www.goodlifevapor.com
www.myfreedomsmokes.com
www.nicvape.com
 

Customs law

Nicotine is not captured under the Customs (Prohibited) Imports Regulations 1956, therefore, it does not require an import permit. However

  • Imported e-cigarettes which make a therapeutic claim may be referred to the TGA for a decision on whether to confiscate them.
  • You may be committing an offence when you take possession of imported nicotine if you do not meet the requirements of the TGA Personal Importation Scheme (above).

 

Below are more detailed articles on e-cigarettes and the law in Australia:
Douglas H et al. E-cigarettes and the law in Australia. Australian Family Physician 2015
Krawitz M. We didn't start this fireless vapour: E-cigarette legislation in Australia. Journal of Law and Medicine 2014


 

* I have no commercial or personal relationship with Nicopharm, other e-cigarette businesses or tobacco companies.

 

Last Modified: 02-09-2017