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.
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 overseas
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 as pure nicotine, premixed with PG and VG as e-juice or in prefilled cartridges for use in 'cigalike' e-cigarettes.
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: 23-07-2016