Why vaping in Australia is still not legal

Why vaping in Australia is still not legal – words Al Woods

You may have heard that vaping in Australia is technically illegal. With around 2.6 million smokers in Australia, most of them are expected to die from tobacco-smoking related diseases and illness.

Smoking is also estimated to cost the country between $12 billion and $30 billion in health care and other associated costs. Australia is one of the last countries to deem vaping illegal, and many people are left wondering why.


The UK and all European Union countries have classified e-cigarettes as legal, as has the USA, and New Zealand, so why is it that the Australian government continues to resist the easing of vape laws? It is because any vapes using even tiny concentrations of nicotine in them must be classed as poison. Incidentally, non-nicotine vapes are not currently considered illegal.

Nicotine Vs. Non-nicotine Vapes

An electronic cigarette is a simple piece of equipment that consists of two parts: an atomiser (battery powered device), and a chamber that contains e-liquid. It is the liquid, commonly referred to as ‘juice’, that is heated to produce vapour, or steam, which is then inhaled by the user. The ‘juice’ is sold in a variety of flavours by retailers such as Vaper Empire, who can also supply the atmomisers, known as ‘pens’ due to their shape.

The e-liquid can contain small amounts of nicotine, thus making vaping a favourable alternative to smoking. For one, your body will intake around 3,000 less carcinogenic chemical compounds than regular cigarettes; and secondly, vaping can help people quit smoking altogether by gradually reducing the amount of nicotine contained in the e-juice until it hits zero.

Despite the benefits, the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has classified nicotine contained in e-cigs to be illegal, despite other studies suggesting that vaping is 95% less harmful than smoking. It is possible to still buy e-liquid that contains no nicotine from stores within Australia, or it is also possible to buy e-juice containing e-liquid if it is imported from abroad. New laws from the TGA are in place from 1st August 2017, and here are the main rules about importation for personal use:

  • Importation of nicotine electronic cigarettes for personal therapeutic use (e.g. use as a quitting aid) is exempt from TGA registration requirements where certain conditions are satisfied (see below). It is therefore possible to lawfully import nicotine electronic cigarettes for personal use if the importer is able to comply with the requirements of the TGA’s personal importation scheme.
    • As the goods are listed in Schedule 4 of the Poisons Standard (Prescription only), the importer must have a prescription from a medical practitioner registered in the relevant state or territory (unless the importer carries the goods as a passenger on a ship or plane).
    • The goods must be imported for use in the treatment of the importer or the importer’s immediate family.
    • The quantity imported in one importation must not be more than three months’ supply at the maximum dose recommended by the manufacturer.
    • The goods must not contain a substance the importation of which is prohibited under the Customs Act 1901 (while nicotine is not a prohibited import, other constituents of electronic cigarettes might be).
    • The total quantity of the goods imported in a 12 month period must not exceed 15 months’ supply.

It is currently legal to import vaping products that contain nicotine into Australia for your own personal use. Whilst other countries fully allow vaping in their countries, Australia is yet to join them to see the benefits of vaping over regular tobacco-smoking. However, the recent law states that it is possible to buy imported products.

Why vaping in Australia is still not legal – words Al Woods


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