Are Electronic Cigarettes legal in Australia?

Are E-Cigarettes Legal In Australia?

Electronic cigarettes are causing confusion around the world as lawmakers struggle to decide the technology’s place in society.

Australia is one of the countries where that confusion is at its height, with vaping laws already some of the strictest in the world and vary more between the different states.

There have been many legislative changes over the past few years, mainly regarding the sale of e-cigarettes and where they can be used.

This guide covers Australian vaping laws on a national and state level and looks at how to vape in Australia legally.

Are E-Cigarettes Legal In Australia?

Yes, it is legal to own and use e-cigarettes and vape devices in Australia. There are restrictions on use in indoor and outdoor public places, vehicles with children under 16 years of age and how and where they can be promoted and sold, covered in the individual state guides below.

The main confusion regarding vaping in Australia is around E-Liquid. While 0% nicotine e-liquid is available to buy in local stores, the commercial sale of nicotine e-liquid is currently banned.

However, while nicotine e-liquid is not freely available on the high street, residents and visitor’s to Australia can still legally vape nicotine if they hold a valid prescription.

Related: Travelling to Australia with e-cigarettes & nicotine e-liquids

Is E-Liquid Containing Nicotine Legal For Personnel Use?

Yes, it is legal to use nicotine e-liquid for personnel use. Still, you must have a prescription from a registered Australian medical practitioner.

Nicotine is classified as a Schedule 7’ dangerous poison’, except for tobacco for smoking and medicinal nicotine replacement products.

If prescribed by a registered doctor, nicotine e-liquid is reclassified as a Schedule 4 product (prescription only) and legal for ‘therapeutic use’ (e.g., quitting or reducing smoking or preventing relapse).

Can I Purchase E-Liquid Containing Nicotine From Overseas And Have It Shipped To Australia?

You can legally import nicotine from overseas to help you quit or reduce smoking under the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) Personal Importation Scheme.

The scheme covers residents of all Australian states. It allows for the importation of 3 months’ supply at a time for personal use, up to 15 months’ supply per year. It would be best to have a prescription from a registered Australian doctor.

For more information regarding prescriptions, importing nicotine to Australia, and what constitutes three months supply of e-liquids, click the link below.

Related: Importing nicotine liquid to Australia with a prescription guide

Related: Buying nicotine e-liquid guide

Are E-Cigarettes Banned In Public Places?

As a general rule, e-cigarettes can be used wherever smoking is not banned. As vaping laws have been modified over recent years, vaping has been Incorporated into existing smoking legislation. This means their use is prohibited in smoke-free areas.

Smoke-free areas where people cannot smoke or use e-cigarettes are:

  • All indoor public places
  • Outdoor public places: Within 10 metres of children’s play equipment in outdoor public places
  • Public swimming pools
  • Spectator areas at sports grounds or other recreational areas used for organised sporting events
  • Public transport stops and platforms, including ferry wharves and taxi ranks
  • Within 4 metres of a pedestrian access point to a public building
  • Commercial outdoor dining areas
  • Public transport, such as buses, trains, ferries

What Is The Legal Age To Vape In Australia?

The legal age to vape is 18. It is an offence to sell e-cigarettes to anyone under 18 years old. It is also an offence for an adult to purchase a vaping device for a minor.

Police have the power to seize a vaporiser that is in possession of a person under the age of 18.

NEW SOUTH WALES VAPING LAWS

New South Wales (NSW) Vaping Laws

Electronic cigarettes classification was updated in the Public Health (Tobacco) Amendment (E-cigarettes) Act 2015.

The national ban on selling or supplying nicotine liquids still applies. Still, it is legal to import them for personal use with a prescription. Again it’s also permitted to use nicotine-containing electronic cigarettes, provided the individual has a prescription from a registered doctor.

Vaping in indoor and outdoor public places is banned (see details below). Businesses and workplaces are free to develop their smoke-free policies to restrict patrons and staff from using e-cigarettes on their premises.

NSW restricts the sale of e-cigarettes and accessories to people under 18. It is also an offence to use e-cigarettes in cars with children under 16.

As e-cigarettes are classed as tobacco products for the purpose of advertising, restrictions on ad’s, displays & promotions have been put in place – see retailers factsheet for more details. Retailers who only sell e-cigarettes and e-cigarette accessories can allow customers to vape within their store if they apply for a special exemption.

Legislation:
Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Regulation 2008;
Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 1966;
Public Health Tobacco Act 2008;
Smoke-free Environment Act 2000 (NSW)

Using e-cigarettes with e-liquid containing nicotine is legal, with a prescription from a medical practitioner.

Importing nicotine for personal use overseas is legal, with a prescription from a medical practitioner.

The sale of vape devices & non-nicotine e-liquids is legal.

Vaping is not allowed in smoke-free* areas, including all indoor public places.

The sale of e-cigarettes or e-liquids containing nicotine is illegal.

The sale of all e-cigarettes to people under the age of 18 is illegal.

The use of e-cigarettes in cars carrying children under the age of 16 is illegal.

Promotional advertising in retail stores of e-cigarettes is illegal.

Victoria (VIC) Vaping Laws

Victoria has updated the Tobacco Act 1987 to regulate sales, advertising and restricted places to use e-cigarette products.

It’s legal to use non-nicotine electronic cigarettes, sell devices and nicotine-free liquids, and import and use nicotine for personal use with a prescription.

The sale of e-cigarette products containing nicotine is banned under Victorian drugs and poisons legislation. Adults can continue to purchase and use non-nicotine e-cigarettes. They can be used in areas where smoking is not forbidden.

It is illegal to sell electronic cigarettes to anyone under 18. Victoria also has limited advertising and promotion of vaping products – view the e-cigarette reforms factsheet here.

Legislation:

Victoria E-cigarette reform factsheet
Certified specialist e-cigarette retailing premises guide
Tobacco Act 1987

Using e-cigarettes with e-liquid containing nicotine is legal, with a prescription from a medical practitioner.

Importing nicotine for personal use overseas is legal, with a prescription from a medical practitioner.

The sale of vape devices & non-nicotine e-liquids is legal.

Vaping is not allowed in smoke-free* areas, including all indoor public places.

The sale of e-cigarettes or e-liquids containing nicotine is illegal.

The sale of all e-cigarettes to people under the age of 18 is illegal.

The use of e-cigarettes in cars carrying children under the age of 16 is illegal.

Promotional advertising in retail stores of e-cigarettes is illegal.

Queensland (QLD) Vaping Laws

Queensland has a reputation for strict enforcement of vaping laws; however, as the state government recently admitted, vapers are free to import nicotine e-liquids under the TGA Personnel Importation scheme.

This means liquid nicotine becomes a schedule 4 (prescription only medicine). People are free to use, import, travel interstate and abroad with liquid nicotine, provided they have a prescription from an Australian registered practitioner.

Foreign visitors travelling to Queensland’s popular tourist destinations can bring nicotine e-liquids. Still, they should have a prescription from a doctor in their home country.

E-cigarettes are classed as tobacco products under the Tobacco and Other Smoking Products Act 1998. This means there are restrictions on where they can be used, such as hotels, clubs, outdoor pedestrian malls and all existing no-smoking indoor and outdoor places. For the complete list, check here.

The Tobacco Act makes it illegal to display or promote vaping products on retail premises. Non-nicotine vape devices can be sold but must not make therapeutic claims such as ‘this product will help you quit or reduce smoking.

Legislation:

Queensland Health Information page
Tobacco and Other Smoking Products Act 1998

Using e-cigarettes with e-liquid containing nicotine is legal, with a prescription from a medical practitioner.

Importing nicotine for personal use overseas is legal, with a prescription from a medical practitioner.

The sale of vape devices & non-nicotine e-liquids is legal.

Vaping is not allowed in smoke-free* areas, including all indoor public places.

The sale of e-cigarettes or e-liquids containing nicotine is illegal.

The sale of all e-cigarettes to people under the age of 18 is illegal.

The use of e-cigarettes in cars carrying children under the age of 16 is illegal.

Promotional advertising in retail stores of e-cigarettes is illegal.

TASMANIA VAPING LAWS

Tasmania (TAS) Vaping Laws

Tasmania is another state that has updated its laws to regard vaping as the same as smoking. This means the same restrictions on use in smoke-free areas now apply to vapers.

Again vape stores cannot sell liquid nicotine and are restricted on how they can advertise e-cigarettes. It is legal to use and import nicotine liquid with a prescription from an Australian doctor (or a doctor in your country if you are visiting Australia).

It should be known that although it is legal, the department of health advises against using nicotine liquids due to a lack of assessment and approval at a national level.

For more information on smoke-free areas in Tasmania, click the links below. They include certain public events, public swimming pools and between the flags at a beach, any work vehicle with another person within 10 metres of a children’s playground.

Legislation & Links:

Fact Sheet: New laws for Electronic Cigarettes in Tasmania
Tobacco Control Laws
Public Health Act 1997

Using e-cigarettes with e-liquid containing nicotine is legal, with a prescription from a medical practitioner.

Importing nicotine for personal use overseas is legal, with a prescription from a medical practitioner.

The sale of vape devices & non-nicotine e-liquids is legal.

Vaping is not allowed in smoke-free* areas, including all indoor public places.

The sale of e-cigarettes or e-liquids containing nicotine is illegal.

The sale of all e-cigarettes to people under the age of 18 is illegal.

The use of e-cigarettes in cars carrying children under the age of 16 is illegal.

Promotional advertising in retail stores of e-cigarettes is illegal.

SOUTH AUSTRALIA VAPING LAWS

South Australia (SA) Vaping Laws

Electronic cigarette legislation has recently been updated in South Australia. Changes to the Tobacco Products Regulation Act, 1997 increased fines (up to $20,000 for a first offence) for any business caught selling vape products to a person under 18 years.

Businesses are now required to hold a Retail Tobacco and E-Cigarette Merchant’s Licence. From 1 October 2019, were no longer be able to sell online.

Additional rules for retailers include a ban on providing free samples, prizes, gifts and displaying e-cigarette products at the point of sale.

The new law introduces on the spot fines of $105 for using electronic cigarettes in smoke-free areas, such as –

  • enclosed public places, workplaces and shared spaces, including inside a retail shop;
  • motor vehicles if a child under the age of 16 years is present;
  • under covered public transport areas;
  • near children’s playground equipment; and
  • outdoor dining areas and other outdoor areas that have been declared smoke-free.

Legislation:
South Australia – New e-Cigarette Law Fact sheet

Selling e-cigarettes in South Australia – Retailer Fact Sheet

Using e-cigarettes with e-liquid containing nicotine is legal, with a prescription from a medical practitioner.

Importing nicotine for personal use overseas is legal, with a prescription from a medical practitioner.

The sale of vape devices & non-nicotine e-liquids is legal.

Vaping is not allowed in smoke-free* areas, including all indoor public places.

The sale of e-cigarettes or e-liquids containing nicotine is illegal.

The sale of all e-cigarettes to people under the age of 18 is illegal.

The use of e-cigarettes in cars carrying children under the age of 16 is illegal.

Promotional advertising in retail stores of e-cigarettes is illegal.

Western Australia (WA) Vaping Laws

Western Australia (WA) Vaping Laws

Western Australia is one the strictest out of all the states regarding the selling of vape devices.

Electronic cigarettes are classed as products that mimic smoking under the Tobacco Products Control Act 2006; that means it’s illegal to sell them. At first, this rule was only applied to vape devices that looked like cigarettes, and more advanced devices were allowed. Still, recently courts have decided that it’s the way they’re used that mimics smoking and not the size or shape.

It’s legal to use e-cigarettes, with or without nicotine. WA vapers are still allowed to import nicotine for personal use and legally buy e-cigarettes from other Australian states.

Legislation:
Electronic cigarettes in Western Australia Fact Sheet
TOBACCO PRODUCTS CONTROL ACT 2006

Using e-cigarettes with e-liquid containing nicotine is legal, with a prescription from a medical practitioner.

Importing nicotine for personal use overseas is legal, with a prescription from a medical practitioner.

The sale of vape devices & non-nicotine e-liquids is legal.

Vaping is not allowed in smoke-free* areas, including all indoor public places.

The sale of e-cigarettes or e-liquids containing nicotine is illegal.

The sale of all e-cigarettes to people under the age of 18 is illegal.

The use of e-cigarettes in cars carrying children under the age of 16 is illegal.

Promotional advertising in retail stores of e-cigarettes is illegal.

NORTHERN TERRITORY VAPING LAWS

Northern Territory (NT) Vaping Laws

A recent amendment to the Tobacco Control Act 2002 means the situation for vapers in the Northern Territory is changing from 1 July 2019. The NT Government will start to regulate e-cigarette products in the same way as tobacco products.

Vapers will now be restricted where they can legally vape, including all smoke-free areas and in a car with a child under 16 years.

Retailers will be required to hold a Tobacco Retail Licence. Retail employees must be over 18 years old to sell vape products.

Using nicotine e-liquid in vape devices is legal, providing a person holds a valid prescription from a registered Australian doctor.

Legislation:

Fact sheet about the new laws for consumers (commencing 1 July 2019)

Tobacco Control Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 (passed Feb 2019)

Retailers information about E-cigarettes and related accessories

Northern Territory Government website

Using e-cigarettes with e-liquid containing nicotine is legal, with a prescription from a medical practitioner.

Importing nicotine for personal use overseas is legal, with a prescription from a medical practitioner.

The sale of vape devices & non-nicotine e-liquids is legal.

Vaping is not allowed in smoke-free* areas, including all indoor public places.

The sale of e-cigarettes or e-liquids containing nicotine is illegal.

The sale of all e-cigarettes to people under the age of 18 is illegal.

The use of e-cigarettes in cars carrying children under the age of 16 is illegal.

Promotional advertising in retail stores of e-cigarettes is illegal.

Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Vaping Laws

Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Vaping Laws

The laws about vaping in the ACT are fairly typical of most states. Vaping is classed the same as regular cigarettes, so there are restrictions on where they can be used and sold. Vaping is not allowed anywhere smoking is banned.

E-cigarettes with nicotine can be used legally with a prescription from a registered doctor. It is also legal to import liquid nicotine if the person holds a valid prescription.

Legislation:

ACT fact sheet on Electronic Cigarettes
Smoke-free Public Places Act 2003

Tobacco and Other Smoking Products Act 1927

Using e-cigarettes with e-liquid containing nicotine is legal, with a prescription from a medical practitioner.

Importing nicotine for personal use overseas is legal, with a prescription from a medical practitioner.

The sale of vape devices & non-nicotine e-liquids is legal.

Vaping is not allowed in smoke-free* areas, including all indoor public places.

The sale of e-cigarettes or e-liquids containing nicotine is illegal.

The sale of all e-cigarettes to people under the age of 18 is illegal.

The use of e-cigarettes in cars carrying children under the age of 16 is illegal.

Promotional advertising in retail stores of e-cigarettes is illegal.

Vaping Advocacy And Vape Laws

So obviously, there’s a fair range of laws regarding e-cigarettes and vaping across the country.

The baseline is that because nicotine is classed as a Schedule 7 poison in Australia, it’s illegal to sell it except as a licensed medication.

That means disposable e-cigarettes or cartridges that contain nicotine are not for sale right across the country. Still, nicotine-free and refillable devices can be sold unless state law bans them.

It is legal to import nicotine liquids for personal use (with a prescription from a registered medical practitioner), so that’s what most Australian vapers do.

E-Liquid is easy to find from suppliers in the US, New Zealand, or from Chinese manufacturers. Many people also order high-strength nicotine bases and mix them with nicotine-free liquids.

It’s still a frustrating situation, though, because while real cigarettes are heavily restricted, they’re still much more available than a safer alternative.

Many people have a strong anti-vaping agenda so that nobody can relax about this.

There will be attempts to tighten the law further, either from Canberra or at the state level, and vapers will have to fight this as hard as they can.

As we state in the article, the legislation around vaping is constantly changing, so we advise you to check for updates & changes to the law regarding vaping on the relevant state and federal websites. The information provided here cannot be considered binding legal advice.

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