What every vaper needs to know from 1 October 2021

Posted on September 14, 2021 By Colin

Important new regulations for buying nicotine e-liquid begin on 1 October 2021. This blog is a simple summary of what every vaper needs to know.

You must have a prescription from an Australian doctor to import nicotine e-liquid legally from overseas after that date. Importing it without a script attracts a fine of up to $222,000!

You can also purchase nicotine e-liquid from some Australian pharmacies but will also need a prescription.

The RACGP smoking cessation guidelines discourage doctors from writing prescriptions for importing nicotine to reduce the risk from vaping products that may not comply with the full safety standards (see below). Prescriptions for pharmacy purchase are preferred and may be what all your doctor is willing to prescribe.

Importing nicotine

1. Visit your GP for a nicotine prescription

Explain to your GP that you have been unable to quit smoking with the methods you have tried and that vaping is keeping you off the cigarettes.

If your doctor is unwilling to provide a nicotine prescription, you can get a second opinion from one of the doctors listed on the ATHRA website here.  Most provide consultations by phone or video call. There is a fee for the telehealth consultation (typically about $90) and in most cases you can get a $39.10 rebate from Medicare.

The doctor will decide how much e-liquid you can have, but the RACGP smoking cessation guidelines recommend a maximum 3 month supply (and no repeats).

Doctors are also advised

Any registered doctor can write a prescription for importing nicotine but generally follow the RACGP guidelines or they are at legal risk if a problem arises.

2. Send the retailer a copy of your prescription

Upload or email the script to the overseas retailer every time you  order nicotine e-liquid. A copy must be included with every order sent to you.

If a script is not included and your delivery is intercepted by the Australian Border Force, you will be asked to provide a prescription. If you do not have one, the goods will be destroyed and you may be fined.

Remember that doctors cannot backdate prescriptions, so the script must be written before making your order.

3. E-liquids must comply with the new Standards

Confirm with the retailer that the e-liquid complies with the Australian standards which commence on 1 October (Standard for Nicotine Vaping Products, TGO 110). The requirements for imported nicotine are:

4. Keep a copy of the prescription on your smartphone

You may be asked if you have a valid prescription for nicotine if you are vaping in public. It is an offence to possess nicotine liquid without a prescription and there are serious penalties and even jail terms in some states.

Pharmacy purchases

You can now purchase nicotine e-liquid from some participating Australian pharmacies and online pharmacies. Pharmacies can supply commercial e-liquid products but the range will be limited. Some compounding pharmacies will make nicotine liquid to order.

1. Find a participating pharmacy

Ask your local pharmacy if they can get supplies of your favourite product from a pharmacy wholesaler for you. They can also import products directly from overseas for sale. Compounding pharmacies can also prepare nicotine e-liquid from the basic ingredients.

If your pharmacy can’t help, there will be others that can, but not many. Some will take online or email orders and will arrange delivery. I will provide a list of participating pharmacies before 1 October.

Information for pharmacists is available here.

2. Visit your GP

Your GP needs to be an Approved Prescriber (AP) for nicotine to write prescriptions for pharmacy purchase. Ask if your GP has registered to be an AP before your visit. GPs can register here quickly and easily.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration will be providing a list of Approved Prescribers on its website from 1 October to help you find one if needed.

3. Go to the pharmacy

If the pharmacy stocks the product you want, take your prescription to the pharmacy so the product can be dispensed.

If ordering from an online Australian pharmacy, email your script or upload it on their website. The order will be posted to you when ready.

All products supplied by Australian pharmacies must comply with the new Standards.

4. Keep a copy on your smartphone

Keep an image of your prescription on your mobile phone in case an authority asks for it. It is an offence to possess nicotine liquid without a prescription in Australia and there are serious penalties and even jail terms in some states.

Further information

Nicotine vaping products: information for consumers. Therapeutic Goods Administration 3 September 2021

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