Vaping and smoking – winners and loses from the Budget

Posted on May 10, 2023 By Colin

THE TOBACCO COMPANIES, criminal gangs and the Treasury are the winners from last night’s Budget announcements on smoking and vaping. The losers are smokers, vapers, public health and vape shops.


The government has made it’s anti-vaping agenda clear. They prefer you smoke instead of vape and plan to “reduce the likelihood of people substituting smoking for vaping”! A public health campaign will “drive and support e-cigarette quit attempts” and “denormalise vaping”.

Never mind that vaping is the most effective quitting aid available for smokers and causes relatively minor harm

Importation of vapes without a prescription will be banned. It still unclear if this includes imports under the Personal Importation Scheme and if vaping hardware will be banned.

The Health Minister wants you to buy vapes only from a pharmacy with a doctor’s prescription. However, even if you can get a prescription, very few pharmacies stock nicotine liquid and the range of products is vanishingly small. And don’t expect any advice or support or discounts from pharmacists.

Other changes will reduce the appeal and effectiveness of vapes as a quitting aid and include

Further details are needed


Australia already has the highest cigarette prices in the world and smoking is largely concentrated in low income and disadvantaged groups. The government is going to slug smokers further with a 5% increase in the tobacco tax each year for 3 years (+indexation).

Most smokers rightly think this is more about raising revenue than health, according to a recent survey, and they are probably right

Increases in tobacco taxes are no longer effective in reducing quitting rates and just cause financial stress to those who can least afford it but are unable to stop smoking.

Only a pittance is being allocated to help them quit: $59 million per year to reduce smoking and vaping, mostly for Indigenous smoking.

Oh, but we are spending $264 million to detect the inevitable spike in lung cancer cases that will result

Vape shops

If vapers can’t get concentrated, unflavoured nicotine, it is likely that most vape shops will close. Vape shops rely on the sale of nicotine-free flavoured e-liquid to which vapers add their own nicotine.

Hundreds of vape shops are likely to close with substantial losses and thousands of people will lose their jobs. See here and here.

The criminal gangs

The crooks importing an estimated 90 million illegal, vapes each year for sale on the black market are celebrating.

The Border Force is under resourced and focused on illicit tobacco and other priority substances. It is not set up or funded to search for illegal vapes. Rather than increase funding , the Budget slashed funding from the border enforcement program.

In any case, harsh restrictions and prohibition have minimal long-term impact on the supply of illegal drugs. Further crackdowns are unlikely to improve the current situation.

The future of the black market is assured and kids will still be able to get their vape supplies!

Tobacco companies

Big Tobacco is cracking open the champagne. Its biggest threat to cigarette sales in decades is being effectively prohibited by…wait for it…the government itself!

Now is the time to buy tobacco shares

A recent survey found that 13% of vapers will return to smoking. Current smokers will find it even harder to switch.

The Treasury

Mark Butler's mates in the Treasury stand to gain $12.7 billion + GST in the next financial year from tobacco tax and this will increase by a further 5% per year for 3 years.

These measures will fail…again. Unfortunately we will have to wait another year or two for the government to admit it got it wrong, and hopefully start all over again.

Budget papers

Budget 2023-23

Tackling smoking and vaping, and improving cancer outcomes. Summary of Budget package

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