The Federal Government has announced a ban on the importation of disposable single use vapes from 1 January 2024.
A Special Access Scheme pathway will also commence on 1 January 2024, which the government says will improve access to therapeutic vapes, whereby all medical practitioners and nurse practitioners will be able to prescribe their use where clinically appropriate.
Theo Foukkare, CEO of the Australian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS), said AACS does not support the outright ban on these products as they have been prescription only since October 2021.
“This policy approach is one of the major reasons why adult demand has driven the over $3 billion per year black market supply. We firmly believe that these proposed changes will significantly fuel the black market further and make the position in Australia worse.”
AACS believes that all vaping products need to be regulated as consumer products like alcohol and tobacco, not medicine, and that strict product standards, including maximum nicotine content, the banning of child-friendly flavours, electrical safety standards, and ingredient disclosures, must be adopted.
Research by Roy Morgan, commissioned by AACS, states that there are over 1.6 million adult vapers, with 92 per cent of these not holding a prescription and purchasing the product on the black market.
A report released by Llewellyn Consulting and commissioned by British American Tobacco (BAT) in October 2022 suggested that if vaping products were legalised and each of Australia’s 1.1 million vaping adults (the number at the time of the report) purchased their products legally, it is possible that over $200 million in GST revenue could be generated each year.
“This approach would enable the Australian government to properly monitor and regulate the use of vaping products as adult consumer goods as well as generate additional revenue streams,” stated the report.
The Government will introduce legislation in 2024 to prevent domestic manufacture, advertisement, supply, and commercial possession of non-therapeutic and disposable single use vapes to ensure comprehensive controls on vapes across all levels of the supply chain.
It will also be establishing a multi-agency National Vaping Working Group to oversee the development and implementation of a national enforcement framework for vaping products to stamp out unlawful vapes in the community and prevent illegal markets from emerging.
To introduce and enforce these reforms, the Government will provide an additional $25 million to the Australian Border Force and $56.9 million to the Therapeutic Goods Administration over two years.