6 Oct 2021
From 1 October 2021, consumers need a valid prescription to import nicotine vaping products, such as nicotine e-cigarettes, nicotine pods and liquid nicotine. This decision closes the loophole in federal legislation, which enables the unregulated importation and illegal sale of nicotine containing vaping products, or e-cigarettes, in each state and territory. This means that when a consumer purchases these products online from an overseas supplier, they legally require a prescription from an Australian doctor.
There is evidence that nicotine vaping products act as a 'gateway' to smoking in youth and exposure to nicotine in adolescents may have long-term consequences for brain development.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) site indicates, “This decision balances the need to prevent adolescents and young adults from taking-up nicotine vaping products while allowing current smokers to access these products for smoking cessation with appropriate medical advice.”
Authorised Prescriber Scheme
The Authorised Prescriber Scheme allows authorised medical practitioners to supply a specified ‘unapproved therapeutic good (or class of goods) to a class of patients with a particular medical condition’.
Medical practitioners who want to be an Authorised Prescriber of an unapproved product must submit an application to the TGA that has been approved by a human research ethics committee (HREC) or endorsed by a specialist college—except where they are applying to become an Authorised Prescriber of medicines specified in Regulation 12B(1B) of the Therapeutic Goods Regulations 1990 (Cth).
Regulation 12B(1B) enables medical practitioners to be approved by the TGA as Authorised Prescribers, without first having to have their application approved by an HREC or endorsed by a specialist college, when they prescribe:
- a medicine that contains nicotine in solution, salt or base form as the active ingredient and does not contain any other active ingredient;
- the medicine is in liquid or solid form;
- the route of administration is inhalation; and
- the supply is for smoking cessation.
We do not support the use e-cigarettes as a quit smoking strategy because of the limited evidence supporting their use in cessation, nicotine vaping products should be considered a last resort. Our view is that GPs, in working with their patients, should not feel pressured to prescribe them.
We recommend members provide proven smoking cessation products to members of the public seeking to access vaping products such as behavioural counselling, nicotine replacement therapy, and some prescription medicines.
Published: 6 Oct 2021