TGA admits that Australia’s vaping regulations are not working

Posted on November 15, 2022 By Colin

THE HEAD OF THE THERAPEUTIC GOODS ADMINISTRATION (TGA) has finally admitted the disastrous and predictable failure of Australia’s vaping regulations.

It was embarrassing to watch Associate Professor John Skerrit being questioned at Senate Estimates last week in Canberra. Hansard here (pages 54-57, 60-62). He acknowledged

The quote of the day went to Senator Ross Cadell

I am anti-bad laws. This law has failed. This law is failing. It is time to look at other solutions

Senator James McGrath

Contradictory evidence

Skerritt acknowledged that “the current regime doesn’t seem effective at all” but curiously said "we should be proud of what we have done on vaping".

The black market has boomed under the regulations but Skerritt strangely denied the obvious explanation that the flawed regulations had created it.

He acknowledged a dramatic increase in youth accessing illegal vapes from the black market, but also denied that "the horse has bolted" on youth vaping, like it has in other countries. He claimed it was a good thing that Australia had not followed the regulations adopted by other western countries!

Secret review

Skerritt had previously promised a review of the regulations (introduced on 1 October 2021) at 3, 6 and 12 months. The review was subsequently cancelled without any public announcement.

Instead, the TGA and government had a secret meeting of “vaping experts” to discuss the crisis in September 2022. The names of the experts were not released, but are likely to be the same experts who recommended the flawed regulations in the first place.

Further public discussion has been promised, but it remains to be seen whether this promise will also be honoured.

Senator Ross Cadell

Not our fault

Australia’s rampant black market for unregulated vapes is a clear result of harsh restrictions on accessing legal products. Smokers can buy deadly cigarettes freely but must jump through hoops to legally purchase a safer product.

When asked about this by Senator Canavan, Skerritt surprisingly denied that the flawed regulations were the cause.

Senator Matt Canavan

Think of the children

The overwhelming and urgent priority of the TGA and government appears to be restricting youth access to vaping products. Who is thinking of the 2.5 million smokers and the need to make vaping accessible to help them quit? Two out of three continuing smokers will die from a smoking-related disease. Good policy needs to do both, not just focus on one goal.

It is likely that further restrictions and enforcement will be recommended by “the experts” to double down on their de facto prohibition. This will only lead to greatly reduced legal vaping and more deaths from smoking.


Hansard, Community Affairs Legislation Committee 10 November 2022 (pages 54-57, 60-62)

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