On 2 May 2023, the Australian Federal Government announced significant vaping reforms and allocated AU $737 million in the 2023-24 Budget to stamp out illegal vaping (see our article on the summary of the smoking and vaping reforms).
In August and September 2023, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), in coordination with other Federal and State agencies, conducted multiple raids across Queensland and New South Wales.
In the first series of raids, the TGA executed multiple warrants on 29 August 2023 on storage units and residences in Queensland and seized over 40,000 vaping products with an estimated street value of AUD $1.2 million. Subsequently, on 6 October 2023, the TGA announced that it had executed warrants on two storage units in Sydney and seized more than 70,000 vaping products with an estimated street value in excess of AUD $2.1 million. These seized vaping products were alleged to be prescription medicines that were not included, or otherwise were not exempt from inclusion, in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG).
Currently, nicotine-containing vaping products (NVPs) are regulated as medicines under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (Cth) and consequently, NVPs can only be lawfully supplied by pharmacies in Australia to a consumer with a valid prescription from a medical doctor.
The TGA’s seizure of these vaping products is part of its ongoing investigation into the alleged importation of unapproved NVPs and is reflective of the increased level of regulatory scrutiny on illegal vaping products in Australia. In Australia, importers or suppliers of counterfeit or unapproved therapeutic goods face up to five years’ imprisonment and/or a financial penalty of up to AUD $1.25 million.
Based on its latest announcement, we expect that the TGA will continue its enforcement of illegal NVPs (including execution of search warrants) across Australia for the foreseeable future.