Australia’s vaping community has had a wild year as Health Minister Greg Hunt proposed a ban on nicotine vaping imports back in June, which was then postponed for six months as almost immediate pushback from the public and members of his own party surfaced in response to the proposal. With less than three months before the ban was to come into effect, the Australian Government then decided to set the ban aside and establish a Select Committee on Tobacco Harm Reduction to launch an inquiry into vaping and establish clear e-cigarette laws.
In Australia, overseas vape companies have been providing adult vapers with access to nicotine-containing vaping products that are not available at local stores, making it possible for tobacco smokers in the country to leave smoking behind by transitioning to vaping with nicotine e-liquid. The practice of importing nicotine vaping products into Australia for personal use, a practice used by many vapers across the country, is regulated under the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s Personal Importation Scheme.
Under the TGA’s Personal Importation Scheme, Australians have been able to legally import nicotine vaping products from overseas companies to help them quit smoking or reduce the amount that they smoke. There are, however, requirements and limitations as outlined by the TGA. For instance, Australians are limited in the amount of nicotine that they can legally import for personal use at one time as well as how much they can import in a given year.
Had the proposed ban on the importation of nicotine-containing vape liquid gone into effect, those found to be in violation of the new measure would have been subjected to a $220,000 fine.
When the ban was initially proposed, many openly questioned whether it would push Australian vapers who had quit smoking back to smoking.
In response to the proposed ban, Australian Senator Matthew Canavan and MP George Christensen started a petition to overturn the ban and instead legalise and regulate nicotine.
The Committee established to examine vaping opened itself up to public consultation, however, the submission window has since closed. Before the window closed, Michael Johnsen MP, a Member of The Nationals who represents the Upper Hunter in the NSW Parliament, sent the Senate Inquiry his own submission in which he voiced his support for vaping as a smoking cessation that he has personally used to quit smoking after decades of failed attempts.
Johnsen cited the “overwhelming evidence” that vaping is “far safer” and “a proven method” of quitting smoking in his submission to the Committee.
Committee chair Hollie Hughes recently stated that she believes vaping to be “an incredibly powerful cessation tool” that is part of the discussion on reducing smoking rates in Australia.