Government set to scrap prescription-only vape model

Australia is set to water down it’s proposed vape ban by allowing adults to acquire vapes without a prescription from pharmacies.

From October 1, vapes will be available from pharmacies without the need for a prescription. These vapes will be regulated, subject to plain packaging requirements, with flavours limited to tobacco, menthol, and mint.

Theo Foukkare, CEO of the Australian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS), says this is a massive admission of the Federal Governments own policy failure.

“The Federal Government is now admitting that properly regulated vapes are safe enough to be sold to adults without the involvement of a doctor.

“It’s clear the Federal Government is more concerned about winning a vote on the floor of parliament rather than introducing an actual real world workable solution to fix Australia’s rampant black market and youth vaping crisis.”

Foukkare says the removal of the prescription-only model and the sale of regulated, controlled products with age ID to adults over the counter will, in time, result in AACS’ long-held position of a regulated consumer model with strict licensing controls and product standards.

“We are watching this unfold in slow motion, but common-sense will prevail.”

Meanwhile, the Coalition has announced that it would adopt a similar, strictly regulated model to other Western countries, which Foukkare said is exactly what Australians want. 

“The Coalition’s commitment to adopt a strictly regulated licensed retail framework for the sale of vapes – in the same way that tobacco and alcohol sales are managed – follows best practice models that are already established in other comparable countries, which have been proven to reduce youth vaping rates.”

Pharmacy response

The Pharmacy Guild, which represents over 5,800 Australian pharmacies, strongly opposes the proposed change to the bill, which is now before parliament, stating that the Senate’s expectation that community pharmacies become vape retailers, and vape garbage collectors is insulting.

“Pharmacists are healthcare professionals who dispense medication that provides a proven therapeutic benefit. No vaping product has been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration based on its safety, efficacy or performance. No vaping product is listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods.

“Everyone wants to keep illegal vapes out of the hands of kids and teenagers, but the Senate wants pharmacists to stock vapes next to children’s Panadol, cold and flu medicine, and emergency contraception,” said a Pharmacy Guild spokesperson.

Black market demand

Currently, there is a rampant black market in Australia with nicotine vaping products easily available across the country, and Foukkare believes this new decision will do nothing to quell that.

“The proposed backflip, whilst well-intentioned, is not going to do anything to address the supply of illegal, unregulated products from dodgy retailers that continue to break the law and sell to anyone, including children.”

Emily Stockings, Associate Professor from The Matilda Centre at the University of Sydney, said the vaping ‘epidemic’ among young people has been driven by the ease of access to these products and their sheer abundance on the market.  

“The new vaping reform bill passed in parliament today is, unfortunately, unlikely to stem this supply: adults will be able to buy vapes through pharmacies without a GP prescription, which essentially opens a door for continued supply to young people.

“Even if young people can only access via prescription (when clinically appropriate), we already know that young people access vapes via older siblings or friends who on-sell them via social media platforms such as snapchat. This new regulation will essentially allow the illicit supply of vapes to young people to continue.”

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