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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 laws that are already some of the strictest in the world and that vary more between the different states.
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, but nicotine free ones and refillable devices can be sold unless state law band them.
Personal Importation Scheme (click for full text)
For Full text please use this link – http://www.tga.gov.au/consumers/personal-importation-scheme.htm
Personal Importation Scheme
Under the Personal Importation Scheme you may import a 3 month supply at the one time (at the maximum dose recommended by the manufacturer) of unapproved therapeutic goods into Australia without any approval required by the TGA provided that:
- the goods are for your own treatment or the treatment of your immediate family; and
- you do not supply (sell or give) the medicine to any other person; and
- where possible, you keep the medicines or medical devices in their original packaging with any dispensing labels intact; and
- the goods are not restricted under Australian Customs controls or quarantine rules and the goods do not contain a controlled substance; and
- the goods are not injections that contain material of human or animal origin (except insulin); and
- the total quantity of the goods imported within a 12 month period does not exceed 15 months supply of the goods (for medicines, at the maximum dose recommended by the manufacturer); and
- if the goods are medicines in Schedule 4 or 8 of the Poisons Standard a prescription from an Australian-registered medical practitioner is held for the medicines.
You cannot import more than a 3 month supply at the one time under the personal importation scheme. If you wish to bring more than 3 months supply at the one time into Australia, an Australian-registered doctor will first need to apply to the TGA for Special Access Scheme approval.
You should therefore check whether nicotine can be possessed or supplied in your own state or territory.
If the liquid nicotine is for a therapeutic use (such as smoking cessation), it is a prescription medicine. To import a prescription medicine you need to possess a valid prescription written by a registered Australian medical practitioner. Under most state and territory laws only a medical practitioner can only write a prescription for a medicine, or prescribe a substance that is for therapeutic use.
Liquid is easy to find from suppliers in New Zealand, or from Chinese manufacturers. Many people also order high-strength nicotine base and mix it with nicotine-free liquids.
Related : >>>>>Check out Our overseas Nicotine E-liquid Vendor Guide <<<<<
It’s still a frustrating situation though, because while real cigarettes are heavily restricted they’re still much more available than a safer alternative.
Where it gets really confusing is at the state level. Some states have much stricter laws than others, sometimes adding up to something like a total ban.
Let’s look at them one at a time.
Western Australia is one the strictest out of all the states. It’s legal to use e-cigarettes, with or without nicotine, but the state government has pretty much made it as hard as they can to actually do it.
They’re classed as products which 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 ones that looked like cigarettes, and more advanced devices were allowed, but recently courts have decided that it’s the way they’re used that mimics smoking and not the size or shape.
This also means it’s illegal to use them anywhere smoking is banned. WA vapers are still allowed to import nicotine for personal use and can legally buy e-cigarettes from other Australian states, though.
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E-cigarettes are classed as tobacco products under the Tobacco and Other Smoking Products Act 1998 – even though they didn’t exist in 1998, so aren’t mentioned in it – and it’s illegal to display or promote them in shops.
They can be legally sold but it’s illegal to import nicotine into the state, even for personal use.
It’s also illegal to use an e-cig that contains nicotine.
Under the law as it stands Queensland vapers are restricted to nicotine-free options, which means many will end up staying with actual cigarettes – which can be bought legally, of course. On balance Queensland is probably the worst state in Australia to be a vaper in.
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New South Wales
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 but it’s legal to import them for personal use. It’s also legal to use nicotine-containing electronic cigarettes.
Vaping in indoor and outdoor public places is allowed, although businesses and workplaces are free to ban patrons and staff using e-cigarettes on their premises.
NSW restricts the sale of e-cigarettes and e-cigarette accessories to people under the age of 18 and it is also an offence to use e-cigarettes in cars with children under the age of 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.
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Victoria has updated the Tobacco Act 1987 to regulate the sale, advertising and restricted places of use of e-cigarette products.
It’s legal to use non-nicotine electronic cigarettes, to sell devices and nicotine-free liquids and to import nicotine for personal use.
The sale, use and possession 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 banned.
It is illegal to sell electronic cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18. Victoria has also limited advertising and promotion of vaping products – view the e-cigarette reforms factsheet here.
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Electronic cigarettes aren’t classified as tobacco products and it’s legal to sell them as long as they don’t contain nicotine.
They can also be used legally.
Under the South Australian Controlled Substances (Poisons) Regulation of 1991 nicotine can be legally owned as long as it’s not for retail or wholesale, and it’s fine to import it for personal use. Again this is quite a vaping-friendly state.
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The situation for vapers in the Northern Territory is slightly unclear.
Electronic cigarettes aren’t classified as tobacco products, and it’s legal to sell nicotine-free ones.
E-cigs can also be legally used whether they contain nicotine or not. The difficult part is getting your hands on nicotine.
It’s not illegal to import it for personal use but Part 11 of the Poisons and Dangerous Drugs Act says you need to apply for a permit to do so.
If you don’t have a permit possession of nicotine becomes an offence.
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Australian Capital Territory
The laws about vaping in the ACT are fairly typical of the more liberal states.
E-cigarettes aren’t classified as anything problematic by law, it’s legal to sell them without nicotine and they can be legally used.
Use in public is up to business owners.
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Tasmania has always been pretty liberal about things and e-cigarettes remain unclassified.
You can’t legally sell nicotine in the state but you can import it as long as it’s for your own use, and you don’t need a permit. Nicotine-free devices can also be legally sold and any e-cigarette can be legally used.
Electronic cigarette Australia law
So obviously there’s a fair range of laws across the country when it comes to e-cigarettes and vaping.
With the exception of Queensland it’s legal to obtain nicotine as long as it’s for your own use not commercial purposes, although NT has that permit issue.
Most places don’t class vaping as smoking either, so it’s not covered by anti-smoking laws. There are a lot of people with a strong anti-vaping agenda though, so nobody can relax about this.back to menu ↑