In May 2022, the Australian government under Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced plans to ban the importation of non-prescription vaping products as part of sweeping smoking reforms. This ban will apply to both non-therapeutic and disposable single-use vapes.

Since the announcement, details on how the vape ban would be enforced have been limited. This led to some frustration among advocates eager for rapid implementation of reforms.

Ban to be Enforced

It is now understood that the vape ban will be underpinned by the creation of new laws rather than just delegating regulatory powers to agencies. The national e-cigarette working group of health officials is currently finalizing the technical details of the legislation.

In addition to domestic laws banning non-therapeutic vapes, separate legislation will also strengthen the government’s ability to control importation of prohibited vaping products.

Public health experts like University of Sydney Professor Becky Freeman have welcomed the focus on new legislation to institute the vape ban.

The key benefit of new laws rather than regulations is permanence and enforceability. Once passed, legislation cannot easily be reversed or canceled without parliamentary action. This provides stability and prevents policy ping-pong.

However, crafting robust legislation takes more time upfront. This likely explains why the vape ban announced in May has not yet taken effect. The government is taking care to ensure the laws will withstand potential industry challenges.

Ongoing Work

The national e-cigarette working group of health department officials still needs to resolve certain details about the vape ban legislation, including:

Determining the quickest way to impose a uniform national ban
Whether this should be federal or state/territory-level legislation
Identifying which therapeutic vape products will remain legal to prevent inadvertent bans
Crafting easy-to-understand rules that facilitate compliance and enforcement
Addressing the complex interplay between medical device and medicine regulations covering therapeutic vapes

While some have expressed eagerness for rapid action, the methodical legislative approach aims to create an air-tight ban not susceptible to industry lawsuits.

Officials need time to close legislative loopholes that currently allow nicotine vapes to skirt rules. Done properly, experts believe the vape ban legislation will be a robust long-term deterrent limiting youth access and risky black market products.

The government is expected to announce firmer timing and implementation details once the legislation is finalized. While delays are frustrating, officials seem committed to ensuring these historic reforms stick via ironclad laws.

Matthew Ma