Holding the line

Don’t give in to pressure to water down proposed regulations around prescription-only vaping, e-cigarettes, Senator tells government

A motion has been moved in the Senate calling for the government to “resist any attempts to weaken the laws surrounding vaping and nicotine e-liquids”.

Introduced into the Senate last week (Wed, 7 October) by Senator Stirling Griff (Central Alliance, SA), the move notes recent research and regulatory preliminary announcements regarding e-cigarettes, before advising the government to hold firm against any pressure.

Senator Griff’s submission said he noted “recent research by the Australian National University which confirms that non-smokers who vape are three times more likely, on average, to take up tobacco smoking, and…that researchers observed that, for people trying to quit tobacco smoking, e-cigarettes tend to result in prolonged use of nicotine, rather than cessation.”

He also noted that the Government was “consulting on proposed new rules that will, from next year, close this loophole by making a prescription a legal requirement for personal purchase of nicotine e-liquid, through domestic pharmacies or online sellers,” as previously reported by AJP.

In September, the TGA announced an interim decision that, if made final, would mean that certain nicotine-containing products could only be supplied with a prescription.

“This is consistent with existing state and territory laws which make the sale of nicotine e-cigarettes/fluids (except for prescription medical use) illegal throughout Australia and its possession or use illegal everywhere but in South Australia,” the TGA said.

“The main impact of the decision, if confirmed through a final decision, is that importing these products purchased from overseas internet sites without a valid prescription would be illegal, and subject to impounding by the Australian Border Force”.

Senator Griff said the Senate acknowledged the concern of the Royal Australian College of Physicians that the proposed Senate select committee inquiry on ‘tobacco harm reduction’ is unnecessary, and that the safest option for the community is to not use tobacco or e-cigarettes.

A PSA spokesperson said at the time of the initial TGA decision that PSA was consulting its members to formulate a response and it would make a submission to the public consultation on the interim decision.

“PSA is also considering the implications of the interim decision on pharmacists’ practice.

“For example, the requirement for a doctor’s prescription for e-cigarettes and other nicotine-containing products provides clarity on the mechanism for legal access for consumers, however, PSA notes there is currently no e-cigarette product registered in Australia.

“This would mean the wholesaler or pharmacist would be required to apply for a permit and arrange to import the product.”

The government has not yet responded to the Senate motion.

The interim decision will be open for public consultation until 6 November 2020, with a final decision expected in mid-December, with an implementation date of either 1 April or 1 June 2021.


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