The Australian Federal Government has announced the first stage of Australia’s vaping reforms, which are set to commence on 1 January 2024, with further changes implemented throughout 2024. This follows the plans to phase out non-prescription vapes announced by the Government on 2 May 2023 (see our article on the proposed reforms).
The Minister for Health and Aged Care, Mark Butler, expressed concern that vapes and e-cigarettes (which were intended to be used as measures to help tobacco smokers overcome smoking addiction) were being used by minors and young adults, who had not previously smoked tobacco.
The Federal Government will implement a ban on the importation of disposable single-use vapes (subject to legislative and administrative arrangements being approved) from 1 January 2024.
Further regulations are also expected to commence on 1 March 2024, including:
a cessation of the personal importation of vapes;
a ban on the importation of non-therapeutic vapes;
requirements for therapeutic vape importers and manufacturers to notify the Therapeutic Goods Administration of their product’s compliance with the relevant product standards; and
requirements for importers to obtain a licence and permit from the Australian Government’s Office of Drug Control before therapeutic vape products are imported.
Throughout 2024, the Department of Health and Aged Care has also announced that they will implement the following additional reforms:
introduction of product standards for therapeutic vapes will be strengthened, including to limit flavours, reduce permissible nicotine concentrations and require pharmaceutical-type packaging; and
prevention of domestic manufacture, advertisement, supply and commercial possession of non-therapeutic and disposable single use vapes to ensure comprehensive controls on vapes across all levels of the supply chain.
The government will also be providing significant resources to regulatory agencies, with an additional $25 million to the Australian Border Force to enhance enforcement efforts at the border. Additionally, more than $50 million will be provided to the Therapeutic Goods Administration for designing and implementing the new permit regulation system.
The vaping reforms are the focus of a collaborative effort of all Australian state and territory health and police ministers. In this regard, the Federal Department of Health has indicated that Australia will develop a national enforcement framework for vaping products, to stamp out unlawful vapes in the community, and prevent illegal markets from emerging.