Australia to Limit Vape Sales to Pharmacies from Next Week

Australia Vaping Regulations Pharmacy Sale

The Australian government has announced that nicotine vapes will be available for purchase from pharmacies without a prescription starting October. This decision marks a departure from the initially proposed world-leading ban on all e-cigarette sales without a doctor’s prescription.

Health Minister Mark Butler reached an agreement with the Greens party on Monday to modify the proposed vape ban, ensuring the legislation can pass through the Senate this week. The new laws will introduce tough penalties for unlicensed shops selling illegal vapes.

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

Key aspects of the new regulations include:

  • Adults can purchase plain-packaged nicotine vapes from pharmacies without a prescription
  • Vapes will only be available in menthol, mint, or tobacco flavors
  • Strict limitations on nicotine content
  • Pharmacists must provide information on health risks and smoking cessation alternatives
  • Mandatory ID checks to ensure purchasers are over 18

The Greens, who pushed for these changes, view the amendments as a balanced approach. Greens health spokesman Jordon Steele-John said, “No one should be penalised for personal use of vapes. The prohibition of drugs has failed.”

However, the Pharmacy Guild of Australia has strongly opposed the new role thrust upon pharmacies. A spokesperson for the guild stated, “The Senate’s expectation that community pharmacies become vape retailers and vape garbage collectors is insulting.”

The Coalition has labeled the amendments a “backdown” from the original proposal. Nationals senator Matt Canavan described it as a “complete reversal at high speed from the government’s failed prescription model.”

This policy shift comes as Australia continues its strong stance on tobacco control. The country was the first to legislate for plain packaging of tobacco products in 2012, and has seen daily smoking rates among those aged 14 and over drop from 24% in 1991 to 8.3% in the 2022–2023 fiscal year.

As Australia implements these new vaping regulations, balancing public health concerns with accessibility, the international community will be closely watching the outcomes of this revised approach.

Source: Vapes to be sold behind the counter under watered-down ban

Matthew Ma