July 19, 2024

The federal government has toned down its world-leading vape crackdown, agreeing to a watered-down implementation.

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. 

This would mirror the supply of ibuprofen, nicotine gum or nicotine patches but with a higher threshold to clear.

Non-therapeutic vapes, which often target kids, will still be illegal to manufacture or sell.

Pharmacists hit out at the decision, saying they were healthcare professionals dispensing medication with a “proven therapeutic benefit”.

“No vaping product has been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration based on its safety, efficacy or performance. No vaping product is listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods,” the Pharmacy Guild of Australia said, in a statement.

“Vaping has long-term patient harms, including cancer, lung-scarring and nicotine addiction. There is limited evidence to support the use of vaping products for smoking cessation and nicotine dependence.

“The Senate’s expectation that community pharmacies become vape retailers, and vape garbage collectors, is insulting.”

The revamped laws will pass the Senate with the support of the Greens, who said vaping shouldn’t be criminalised or require a prescription.

“There’s a lot to balance here. Unregulated disposable vapes are dangerous for health and bad for the environment,” Senator Jordan Steele-John said on X.

“Prohibition of substances doesn’t work. Communities must be protected, not over-policed.”

Health Minister Mark Butler said the new laws would ensure vapes were used as an alternative for smokers, not a hobby for children.

“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 Coalition, which hasn’t revealed how it would vote on the laws, labelled the move a “backdown”.

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