Australian public overwhelmingly supports licensed retail sales of vaping products

Posted on October 16, 2023 By Colin

THE VAST MAJORITY OF AUSTRALIAN VOTERS want regulated nicotine vaping products to be sold through licensed retail outlets, like alcohol and tobacco.

This was the finding of a RedBridge market research study of 1,500 Australians aged 18 and over, conducted last month. The research was commissioned by the Australian Association of Convenience Stores.

Support for retail sale to adults

The survey revealed that 88% of respondents support the idea that regulated nicotine vaping products should be available for sale to adults aged 18 and older through licensed retail outlets, the same as alcohol and tobacco products.

These findings echo those of a a Roy Morgan survey from March 2023 which found that 73% of Australians are in favour of an age-restricted  retail model with licensed retailers. (page38)

Dissatisfaction with the prescription-model

The survey confirms the widespread dissatisfaction with the current prescription-only model. Approximately two-thirds of voters believe that government efforts at regulating vaping are poor or very poor, reflecting the view that prescription-only model has inadvertently fuelled a thriving black market for vape sales.

A mere 2% of respondents express high confidence in the effectiveness of the prescription-only approach, while 15% are somewhat confident.

The black-market for vaping is rampant, offering unregulated, illegal products to both adults and children, and further restrictions seem unlikely to have any effect.

Political implications

Perhaps most notably, 61% of respondents indicated that they are likely to consider a party's stance on vape regulation when casting their votes

Support for retail sale was found to be consistent across all age groups and political parties.

These findings are not surprising, considering that Australia’s prescription-only model has been largely rejected by adult vapers. Over 90% of current vapers purchase their products illegally and only 8% have a nicotine prescription.

The people have spoken and the government needs to listen. As Robert Dahl, the late Professor of Political Science at Yale University once stated

In democratic systems, elected officials are expected to represent the interests and preferences of their constituents

The message to policymakers is clear: voters believe that nicotine vaping products should be sold as adult consumer products by licensed retail outlets, similar to the regulation of tobacco and alcohol. Australian policy should align with other western countries on this matter, and any disregard for this message may come at a political cost.


RedBridge Group. Attitudes towards the regulation of nicotine vapes in Australia. Sept 2023

Independent Economics. Tobacco & vaping in Australia. An updated economic assessment. March 2023 (page 38)

Mendelsohn C, Wodak A, Hall W. How should nicotine vaping be regulated in Australia. Drug Alcohol Review 2023

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