Nicotine, a risky business for Vapers in Australia
Under the new TGA (Therapeutic Goods Association) Regulations, Aussie Vapers who plan on importing nicotine without a prescription will be at risk of gaining up to a $222,000 fine and a possible criminal record. Vaping nicotine is now officially recognised in Australia as a valid, quitting aid by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners for smokers who have been less
successful to quit using other treatments such as patches or lozenges.
It is legal and approved for your GP to support vaping and to write nicotine
prescriptions where they deem it appropriate. To continue the legal use of nicotine in your vape, visit your GP and explain how vaping has assisted you in quitting and the benefits it has had to your health.
So what if your Doctor wont prescribe you nicotine?
You will find a lot of Doctor’s have no idea how to write up a prescription for nicotine. There is no reason why you can respectfully suggest they hop on to the ATHRA website and log on to the Health Professional section where they will find all the information they need. Most doctors have been discouraged from prescribing nicotine by the Australian Medical Association and most do not have the time to research the evidence themselves. In this case, seeking support and advice from another GP can be another option for you. There is a up to date list at www.athra.org.au/doctors of GP’s in Australia who have a genuine interest in assisting your journey to quitting smoking, who are well informed and for vaping, and who are able to provide a prescription for nicotine if appropriate. It is also possible in this day and age to have an online or over the phone consultation with a GP who is not your usual GP. Medicare Rebates are available for these where smoking or vaping is concerned. Your prescription is valid for 12 months.
HERE ARE 3 WAYS YOU CAN LEGALLY ACCES NICTOTINE E-LIQUID
1: Importing from Overseas
Most Australian vapers are importing from New Zealand or China. If you have a prescription, you can import up to 3 months’ supply of nicotine e-liquid from overseas suppliers for personal use to quit smoking or prevent relapse as
supported by the Personal Importation Scheme. Under the Customs Act 1901 It is necessary to send a copy of your nicotine prescription to your supplier for them to return back with your order. If you do not provide your script your order will be terminated at the Border. The TGA (Therapeutic Goods Association) has established new safety and quality standards for nicotine e-liquid commencing 1 October 2021. Products imported under the Personal Importation Scheme: Your e-liquid must not contain any of the following ‘active’ ingredients
- caffeine, THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol), Stimulants, Vitamins. It must not contain
- acetoin, benzaldehyde, cinnamaldehyde, diacetyl, diethylene glycol, ethylene glycol, pentane-2 3-dione, vitamin E acetate. All of which are potentially harmful
and Maximum nicotine concentration of 100mg/mL Nicotine to be within 10% of concentration stated on the label
2. Commercial products from Australian pharmacies Since May 2021, Australian chemist and online pharmacies have been able to sell commercial nicotine e-liquids such as bottled e-liquids or in pods or cartomiser to those with a prescription from a doctor who is an authorised prescriber. Doctors must apply to the TGA (Therapeutic Goods Association) to become an Approved Prescriber. You will need to inform your doctor which product, brand and flavour you require and find out if an Australian pharmacy can provide it. It still remains to be seen how many pharmacies will participate in supplying of such products only based on legal perscriptions. The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has previously stated, The Guild does not support the sale of personal vaporisers in pharmacies, regardless of whether or not they contain nicotine.
It is likely it will be contained to a limited range of products in pharmacies that will be available. Pharmacy markups are likely to be significant and may be prohibitive. It is not clear yet if nicotine e-liquid will be on pharmacy shelves or if it needs to be ordered from a wholesaler when the script is presented.
If you choose this option, make sure the doctor is an Authorised Prescriber before your visit to get a prescription.
3. Compounding pharmacies
A compounding Pharmacy is the preparation of a custom formulation of a medication to fit a unique need of a patient that cannot be met with commercially available products. Compounding pharmacies can prepare customised nicotine e-liquid when provided with a prescription from an Authorised Prescriber. Simply tell the doctor what flavour, PG:VG ratio and nicotine concentration you require so it can be included on the prescription.
Importing nicotine without a valid prescription carries a penalty of up to $222,000 under the Customs Act, p644 (222 penalty units, $1,000 each). The penalties for importing or possessing nicotine without a prescription are totally disproportionate to the risk involved. State and territory penalties for possession without a prescription are up to $32,000 and 2 years jail time! A prescription is not required to possess nicotine e-liquid in South Australia although the information provided on this is conflicting.