From 1 October 2021, consumers will require a doctor’s prescription to legally access nicotine e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine in Australia.

Under existing state and territory laws, the sale of nicotine e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine without a prescription, is illegal throughout Australia. Additionally, the possession or use of these products without a prescription is illegal in all states and territories except South Australia.

The decision handed down by Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) means that importing nicotine e-cigarette products from overseas websites without a valid doctor’s prescription will be illegal.

TGA’s ruling also means that consumers will only be able to purchase nicotine e-cigarettes either online or from a pharmacy, a decision which has been condemned by national retailing industry associations.

The Australasian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS) says that the ruling fails on the grounds of health, economic, consultation and common sense. 

AACS Caretaker CEO Brett Barclay said the TGA’s ruling ensures Australia remains an international outlier in failing to support the health of its citizens and responsible retailers.

“Progressive nations around the world have regulated the legal sale of these products and are enjoying the health and economic benefits,” he said.

“This decision is a major missed health opportunity. People looking for a safer alternative to smoking should be able to purchase safer products through responsible retailing channels. Instead, Australians are prevented from conveniently accessing such products.

“This decision is a common sense breakdown. Responsible retailers can legally sell more harmful tobacco products but are prevented from selling a safer alternative.

“This decision is also a missed economic opportunity. Instead of supporting retailers by regulating the legal sale of products which are in demand, the TGA has opted to unnecessarily clog up the health system by requiring people to visit a GP for a prescription.

“Finally, this decision is a case study in fake consultation. Despite many submissions, requests for meetings, letters of concern and more, the Government has not responded to this issue in any way.

“On every level, the TGA’s decision misses the mark, and the result is negative economic consequences for retailers and disastrous health outcomes for Australians looking for a safer alternative to smoking,” says Barclay.

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