Following approval of the Senate overnight the sale of e-cigarette/vapes will be unlawful in a fuel/convenience retail context from next week.  The Health Minister announced the intention to restrict the sale of e-cigarettes/vapes in March this year and while there has been a relaxing of the prescription model that means any adult can purchase vapes from a pharmacy without a prescription, the legislation completely bans any other retail sale.  This means that fuel and convenience retailers must clearly understand the the ban and ensure that they are in full compliance before the 1 July 2024 commencement date or face serious penalties.

The change to the prescription model will operationally be a stepdown.  From July 1, therapeutic vapes will be only available with a prescription from a GP or prescribing nurse, as planned.   But from October 1, those same therapeutic vapes will be available from a pharmacy after talking with a pharmacist.  Non-therapeutic vapes, which often target kids, will still be illegal to manufacture or sell.

E-cigarettes for sale at pharmacies will still be regulated and subject to plain packaging requirements, with flavours limited to mint, menthol or tobacco.

In a statement, Health Minister Mark Butler said the government’s “world-leading laws” would return vapes to their original purpose: “as therapeutic products to help hardened smokers kick the habit”.

“These laws protect young Australians and the broader community from the harms of recreational vaping, while ensuring that those who really need access to a therapeutic vape for help to quit smoking, can get one from their local pharmacy,” Mr Butler said.

“The best time to have done this was five years ago. The second-best time is right now.”

“These laws protect young Australians and the broader community from the harms of recreational vaping,” he said.
“From Monday next week, it will be unlawful to supply, manufacture, import and sell a vape outside of a pharmacy setting.”

The legislation will also make commercial possession illegal.  So even if a business is not ‘caught’ selling vapes, they will face penalties for having them on a commercial premises.

Mr Butler said the ban was not “prohibition”.

“This is not a bill to prohibit the use of vapes,” he said.

“This was presented as a therapeutic good… these laws return it to that.”