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Nicotine vaping products: Information for consumers

21 October 2021

This page provides an overview of how consumers can legally access nicotine vaping products to help quit smoking, where appropriate.

Nicotine vaping products require a prescription

From 1 October 2021, consumers require a prescription for all purchases of nicotine vaping products, such as nicotine e-cigarettes, nicotine pods and liquid nicotine. This includes purchases from Australian pharmacies and from overseas. It remains illegal for other Australian retailers, such as tobacconists, 'vape' shops and convenience stores, to sell you nicotine vaping products, even if you have a prescription.

These regulatory changes balance the need to prevent adolescents and young adults from taking-up nicotine vaping (and potentially smoking), while enabling current smokers to access these products for smoking cessation with appropriate medical advice. Nicotine vaping products can only be legally used by the person named on the prescription.

Nicotine replacement therapies (including sprays, patches, lozenges, chews and gums) that do not require a prescription will continue to be available from pharmacies and some retail outlets.

Watch this video to learn more about the changes and how you can legally access nicotine vaping products:

 
Regulatory changes to importing nicotine vaping products
Download our consumer fact sheet on the regulatory changes.

Speak to your doctor about quitting smoking

It's important that you speak to your doctor about your smoking cessation options. They will discuss the various options available to help you quit smoking, including prescription medicines, nicotine replacement therapies and support services. You can also phone the Quitline on 13 7848 or visit the Quit Now website.

Nicotine vaping products should not be the first smoking cessation approach you try.

If you have unsuccessfully tried other approaches to smoking cessation, your doctor might consider it appropriate to prescribe you a nicotine vaping product. Your doctor is under no obligation to prescribe you a nicotine vaping product if they do not think it is appropriate.

How to access a nicotine vaping product if your doctor thinks it is a suitable smoking cessation treatment for you

If your doctor thinks that a nicotine vaping product may help you to quit smoking you will need a prescription to access the products through an Australian pharmacy (Authorised Prescriber Scheme or Special Access Scheme) or from an overseas website (Personal Importation Scheme).

Your doctor can issue you a prescription once they have obtained TGA approval as an Authorised Prescriber or under the Special Access Scheme. It is quick and free for doctors to become Authorised Prescribers. You can also find a list of doctors who are already Authorised Prescribers of nicotine vaping products on our website.

Fill your prescription at an Australian community or online pharmacy.

Other Australian retailers (e.g. tobacconists, vape shops, convenience stores) are not allowed to sell you nicotine vaping products, even if you have a prescription.

Your product will be subject to the minimum ingredient, child-resistant packaging and labelling requirements in our standard for nicotine vaping products. The TGA can take action against the supplier of your product if it does not meet these requirements.

Your doctor can issue you a prescription. They do not need TGA approval.

Order a nicotine vaping product matching your prescription from a reputable overseas website.

  • The nicotine vaping product must have the same nicotine concentration as your prescription
  • Maximum 3-month supply per order

Ask the overseas website to include a copy of your prescription with your package.

Australian Border Force (ABF) officials can stop goods at the border that they suspect are unlawful imports and refer them to the TGA for further investigation. If there is no prescription enclosed in the package, and you do not provide your prescription to the TGA on request, your products may be seized and destroyed, and you may be fined.

You or your doctor is encouraged to ask the overseas website about the ingredients, packaging, labelling and manufacturing of the product. The TGA cannot take action against the operator of the overseas retailer if the product you order has harmful ingredients or its packaging/labelling does not comply with our requirements.

A list of questions you might want to ask an overseas supplier of nicotine vaping products is available as part of our community Q&A.

Remember - you can also phone the Quitline on 13 7848 or visit the Quit Now website to discuss the various options available to help you quit smoking, including prescription medicines, nicotine replacement therapies and support services.

The flow chart below illustrates the steps involved in legal access to nicotine e-cigarettes in Australia.

flowchart including the steps for dispensing prescription e-cigarette nicotine

Report side effects and problems

We strongly encourage consumers and health professionals to report any suspected side effects related to nicotine vaping products.

The TGA has an important role in monitoring the safety of 'unapproved' products. Reporting side effects and problems helps us to understand the safety of a product. We investigate significant safety concerns as part of ensuring product safety in the Australian community.

Seek urgent medical attention for suspected poisonings

Nicotine vaping products can have toxic and sometimes severe effects if ingested or through exposure to the skin or eyes. Please seek urgent medical attention if you think that you, or anyone else, may have been exposed to or ingested a nicotine vaping product. Emergency services can be contacted by calling 000 and the Poisons Information Centre can be contacted by calling 131 126.

Reporting perceived breaches or questionable practices

We encourage you to report any perceived breach of the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 or questionable practices in relation to the import, manufacture, supply, export or advertising of nicotine vaping products to the TGA. This includes the sale of nicotine vaping products by a retailer other than a pharmacist (e.g. by a vape store).


Authorised by the Australian Government, Canberra