Legalities

New Australian Vaping Laws are Confusing Retailers

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A retailer group is seeking clarification on the newest regulations related to ecigarettes and other vaping products with nicotine eliquids in Australia. This new regulation, which was effective on 1 October, is confusing everyone in the petrol and convenience (P&C) channel as to how this new rule will impact retailers and their operations.

Specifically, the October 1 regulation states that consumers will have to obtain a prescription from a general practitioner (GP) in order to purchase vaping products with nicotine-loaded eliquids in Australia. Those who will violate this regulation are said to face steep fines. Imprisonment is also possible in some cases.

Retail group’s statement

According to Theo Foukkare, CEO of the Australian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS), they remain unaware of what information they can relay to their customers regarding the new regulations and whether such communication will breach the tobacco act in some states. He stated that the retailers are “left in the dark” on how the new rule will impact the convenience stores and other retailers across Australia who are selling nicotine salts Australia brands, pod systems, vape juice Australia labels, and popular vape brands, among others. These retailers are expecting to meet some confused customers in the next weeks and months.

The AACS stays firm in its belief that nicotine-based vape products should be available at existing licensed tobacco retailers. Foukkare stated that they “stand ready” as responsible tobacco retailers who are trusted by their consumers to provide and supply smokers with a less harmful option.

With the new regulation, consumers are expected to consult a GP in order to obtain a prescription, which they can use to purchase nicotine vape products in pharmacies in Australia. Consumers can also use the prescription to import the products. Local retailers, especially those who are adversely affected by the economic hardship of COVID-19, fear that this option will bring millions of dollars overseas instead of sustaining the local economy.

Foukkare further stated that with the new regulation, the Federal Government is “locking smokers out of a far less harmful product.” This denies the Australian vapers who are looking for the chance to lower their cigarette consumption or quit smoking altogether.

Pharmacy guild doesn’t support selling of vapourisers

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia has previously publicly declared that it is against any idea of selling vape products in pharmacies regardless of whether or not they have nicotine. Such a statement further increases the confusion among affected entities as to how the new vaping regulation affects them.

On the other hand, the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has earlier released a guideline disclosing that pharmacies are allowed to advertise vape products through certain media and to communicate to consumers as to where to find and obtain these products.

Smoking and vaping statistics in Australia

It is estimated that there are 600,000 Australians who are currently vaping. This is based on the data that the number of vapers in the country increased from 240,000 in 2016 to 520,000 in 2019.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, around 2.1 million Australians who are at least 18 years old are current daily smokers in 2020-2021. At least 8.9% of them currently use an e-cigarette or vaping device.

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