You are here
Vapes: information for patients
Learn how patients can access vapes, where their doctor considers that it is appropriate for smoking cessation or the management of nicotine dependence.
This guidance does not apply to cannabis vapes, which are subject to separate strict regulation. Find out more at the Medicinal cannabis hub.
This page provides an overview of how patients can lawfully access vapes for use for smoking cessation or the management of nicotine dependence.
Patients currently require a prescription to purchase vapes containing nicotine. Vapes containing nicotine can only be supplied in pharmacy settings. It is illegal for retailers such as tobacconists, vape shops and convenience stores to supply vapes containing nicotine, even with a prescription.
Vapes that do not contain nicotine or any other active ingredient, and that do not make therapeutic claims, can currently be lawfully supplied in retail stores, subject to compliance with relevant state and territory laws.
Reforms to the regulation of vapes
New regulations to place stronger controls on the importation, manufacture, and supply of vapes have now been made and are being implemented in stages in 2024. The first stage is the introduction of stricter import controls on vapes from 1 January 2024, with further controls to commence on 1 March 2024.
These reforms are designed to protect Australians, particularly young people, from the harms of vaping and nicotine dependence while ensuring vapes remain available to patients with a prescription, where clinically appropriate.
From 1 January 2024, the importation of disposable vapes, irrespective of nicotine content, is banned under the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1958, subject to very limited exceptions (e.g. scientific and medical research). This means that patients will no longer be able to purchase disposable vapes online from an overseas supplier, even if they have a prescription.
From 1 March 2024:
- the importation of reusable vapes, irrespective of nicotine content or therapeutic claims, will be banned, unless an import licence and permit is obtained. Only businesses will be eligible to obtain a licence and permit.
- the importation of all vapes under the personal importation scheme will end. Patients will no longer be able to order any vapes, including reusable vapes, directly from overseas, even if they have a prescription.
- travellers entering Australia will be banned from bringing vapes into the country, other than for their treatment or the treatment of someone they are caring for, subject to very strict quantity limits (see below: Bringing vapes into Australia).
Speak to your health professional about quitting smoking, quitting vaping or managing nicotine dependence
Not all medicines used for smoking cessation or the management of nicotine dependence are the same. There are a range of smoking cessation medicines available in Australia that have been evaluated and approved by the TGA that do not have the same health risks as vapes.
It is important that you speak to your doctor or other qualified health professional about your options for smoking cessation or the management of nicotine dependence. They will discuss the various options available to help you quit smoking, quit vaping or to manage nicotine dependence, including prescription medicines, nicotine replacement therapies and support services.
There are currently no therapeutic vapes that have been evaluated by the TGA and included in the ARTG for smoking cessation or the management of nicotine dependence. Therapeutic goods not included in the ARTG are known as unregistered or ‘unapproved' goods. These products have not been assessed by the TGA for quality, safety and efficacy or performance.
However, therapeutic vapes may help some patients to quit smoking or manage their nicotine dependence under health practitioner supervision. There is limited evidence of the effectiveness of these products as a smoking cessation aid, so speak to your doctor or nurse practitioner about your specific circumstances.
As with any prescription medicine, your doctor is under no obligation to prescribe you a therapeutic vape if they do not think it is clinically appropriate. Given the health risks associated with vapes, and the fact that no therapeutic vapes have been approved by the TGA, therapeutic vapes are not a first line of treatment for smoking cessation or the management of nicotine dependence.
You can also phone the Quitline on 13 7848 or visit the Quit Now website- external site for further information and support.
Bringing vapes into Australia
A new traveller’s exemption applies to persons bringing vapes into Australia by ship or aircraft with stricter quantity limits.
The vapes must be for use in the treatment of the traveller or someone the traveller is caring for, who is entering Australia on the same ship or aircraft.
The maximum allowable quantity is:
- 2 vapes,
- 20 vape accessories (including cartridges, capsules or pods), and
- 200mL of vape substance in liquid form.
The new quantity limits apply to disposable vapes from 1 January 2024 and all other vapes from 1 March 2024.
Vapes that contain substances that are controlled drugs under regulation 5 of the Customs (Prohibited Imports) Regulations 1958, such as cannabis, are not counted in the above limits.
Accessing vapes for smoking cessation or nicotine dependence in Australia
From 1 March 2024, vapes will not be able to be imported into Australia or manufactured in Australia without being notified to the TGA as complying with relevant standards. The TGA will publish a list of these goods on the TGA website.
The list of notified therapeutic vapes will inform practitioners and pharmacies of products that may be lawfully prescribed or dispensed to patients. Vaping substances containing nicotine may only be supplied with a prescription. Vaping devices for use with these substances may be supplied without a prescription but can only be supplied in pharmacy settings by registered pharmacists or other persons authorised under state or territory laws to supply prescription medicines.
What is not affected by the reforms?
Nicotine replacement therapies (NRTs) that are currently registered on the ARTG are not affected by the changes, including:
- chews and
These therapies are available without prescription from pharmacies and some retail outlets.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
No. Vapes containing nicotine are prescription medicines. They can only be supplied to patients with a valid medical prescription.
Your doctor is under no obligation to prescribe you a therapeutic vape if they do not think it is clinically appropriate.
Your medical practitioner, or nurse practitioner will determine the period for prescribing vapes that is clinically appropriate for you and when a follow up consultation should be scheduled.
From 1 January 2024, the Special Access Scheme C (SAS C) pathway will be available to medical practitioners and nurse practitioners to supply vapes for smoking cessation or the management of nicotine dependence, where clinically appropriate. The Special Access Scheme B (SAS B) and Authorised Prescriber pathways will continue to be available.
No. The personal importation scheme for all vapes will close on 1 March 2024 (noting that disposable vapes are banned entirely from 1 January 2024). At this time, you will no longer be able to lawfully purchase any vapes, including vapes for smoking cessation or nicotine dependence, from overseas retailers or websites for personal use, even if you have a prescription.
Australian Border Force (ABF) officials can stop goods at the border that are suspected to be unlawful imports. Your vapes may be seized and destroyed, and you may be fined.
Remember - you can also phone the Quitline on 13 7848 or visit the Quit website to discuss the various options available to help you quit smoking or to manage nicotine dependence, including prescription medicines, nicotine replacement therapies and support services.
Report side effects and problems
We strongly encourage patients and health professionals to report any suspected side effects related to vapes.
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
Vapes 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 vaping substance. 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 relating to the importation, manufacture, supply, and advertising of therapeutic vapes to the TGA. This includes the supply of vapes containing nicotine by a retailer other than a pharmacist (e.g. by a vape store).
Some people may find issues relating to smoking cessation or the management of nicotine dependence distressing. If you or someone you know needs additional support, please contact any of the below crisis support helplines:
- Lifeline: 13 11 14
- Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
- Beyond Blue: 1800 512 348
- MensLine Australia: 1300 789 978
- Kids Helpline (5-25 years): 1800 551 800
- Headspace: 1800 650 890