From 1 March 2024 Federal and State laws come into effect to limit the supply and use of tobacco and vape (e-cigarette).  At the Federal level import, flavour and retail bans are escalated, while at a State level SA has designated public spaces tobacco and vape free zones.  These changes are ahead of total bans on (non-therapeutic) vaping that are expected to be presented to Federal parliament in coming weeks.

Importation Bans

From 1 March 2024 the importation of any vape (e-cigarette) without a licence is illegal, the range of flavours able to be imported with a licence has been reduced at a federal level.

These further restrictions build on the changes that came into effect on 1 January 2024,

This latest round of federal changes result in a national ban on the importation and sale and use of refillable vapes and include:

  • the cessation of the personal importation of vapes,
  • a ban on the importation of non-therapeutic vapes,
  • a requirement for therapeutic vape importers and manufacturers to notify the Therapeutic Goods Administration of their product’s compliance with the relevant product standards, and
  • a requirement for importers to obtain a licence and permit from the Australian Government’s Office of Drug Control before the products are imported.

The range of flavours available is also set to become a lot more limited, with only mint, menthol or tobacco allowed.

From March 1, the importation of all vapes, including rechargeable, will be banned without a licence. Changes are also being made for those who import vapes for personal use. Until now, the personal importation scheme had allowed people to bring up to three months worth of vapes into Australia if they had a prescription.

This scheme will be wrapped up, with the only legal way to acquire vapes to be through a licensed pharmacist.

Anti Vaping Campaign

This week also saw the launch of an Anti-Vaping social media campaign as part of the federal governments commitment to addressing the youth vaping crisis.

Speaking on the launch of the campaign Health Minister Mark Butler noted that  “Together with the Albanese Government’s world leading vaping reforms, education is a key step to stopping Big Tobacco companies from luring a new generation into nicotine dependency”.

Asked when he wanted to see vape shops shutter, he said the government would introduce another tranche of legislation in the next sitting period.

“We’re aiming to have this enforced on the first of July, but that of course is subject to the passage of the legislation through Parliament,” Butler said.

“I do call on Peter Dutton to take a constructive view about this.

“He made some encouraging noises when we first announced this, he recognised this is a serious concern among parents and school communities,  but we haven’t yet got an indication about their willingness to support our legislation.”

Whats next for vape retailing?

This week Minister Butler outlined that the federal government is going to put forward legislation to prevent advertising, supply and commercial possession of non-therapeutic vapes.

The anticipated changes will also ban advertisements featuring vapes, and companies will no longer be allowed to supply or possess vapes for any purposes, with the government saying it wants “controls across all levels of the supply chain”.

“Vaping is creating a whole new generation of nicotine dependency in our community, especially amongst young Australians,” said Minister for Health Mark Butler.

“The supply of vapes coming into Australia will gradually dry up over the course of 2024, for this reason we strongly encourage all recreational vapers to begin their journey of cessation.”

Enforcement Challenges

Since January, more than 360,000 vapes worth $11 million have been seized, almost three times as many as the entirety of last year.

Smoking and vaping in popular outdoor public spaces including jetties, parts of beaches and outside shops will be banned from Friday, with new fines to help enforce the law.

Further Changes in South Australia

Also from 1 March 2024 a series of no-smoking and no-vaping zones are established in South Australia.  Persons who are caught smoking or vaping in designated public spaces will face on the spot fines ($105) and prosecution ($750).

Specifically smoking and vaping is now prohibited in South Australian public spaces including:

• Outdoor public swimming facilities, and within 10m of the entrance.

• On beaches between and within 50m of patrol flags and within 5m of jetties.

• At and within 10m of schools and childcare settings.

• At and within 10m of non-residential building entrances, such as entrances to shopping centres, government and commercial buildings.

• At public hospitals and health facilities, private hospitals and within 10m of their boundaries.

• At major event venues declared under the Major Events Act 2013.

• At and within 10m of playing and viewing areas during organised under-18 sporting events.

The new zones significantly increase the number of outdoor places in SA where smoking and vaping is banned, in addition to smoke-free laws which include outdoor dining areas, playgrounds and public transport shelters.

A “Clearing the Air” advertising campaign will explain how the new laws will work, before a second burst of the “Vape Truths” campaign kicks off in mid-March.

Health Minister Chris Picton said: “We make no apologies for stamping out vaping and smoking in a range of public outdoor spaces.

“Smoking is our biggest preventable killer and cause of disease and the rates of young people vaping and becoming addicted is alarming,” he said.

“South Australians want to enjoy their public spaces, including outdoor pools and kids’ sporting grounds, free from harmful tobacco smoke and e-cigarette vapour.”

Drug and Alcohol Services of South Australia Clinical Director Dr Victoria Cock said it is becoming clear vapes are dangerous and can contain even more nicotine than cigarettes.

“The nicotine in one vape can be equal to 50 cigarettes, or even more,” she said.

“We need to do all we can to both limit passive smoking and get the message out that vaping is highly addictive and could be very damaging to your health.”

Elisha Radwanowski BCom(HRM&IR)