Minister listens to concerns over vaping

Daniel McCulloch and Paul Osborne
People trying to quit smoking now have more time to talk to their doctors about vaping products

The federal government has thrown a lifeline to people using e-cigarettes with nicotine as a means to ending their smoking addiction.

Nicotine vaping products are currently banned under state and territory regulations.

Earlier this month, Health Minister Greg Hunt extended the import ban, which can only be lifted for a doctor's prescription.

The ban will remain in place for 12 months to allow for public consultation through the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

The TGA is considering an amendment to the Poisons Standard which would require a valid prescription for vaporiser nicotine products.

However, Mr Hunt said in a statement on Friday further time would be allowed to put in place a streamlined process for patients obtaining prescriptions through their GP.

"For this reason, the implementation time frame will be extended by six months to January 1, 2021," the minister said.

"This will give patients time to talk with the GP, discuss the best way to give up smoking, such as using other products including patches or sprays, and if still required, will be able to gain a prescription."

He said it was important the TGA review continued.

The Victorian Poisons Centre reported a near doubling of nicotine poisonings between 2018 (21 cases) and 2019 (41 cases), primarily caused by imported products of dubious safety and quality.

A Victorian toddler died from nicotine poisoning in July 2018.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison earlier in the day said the minister had been listening to concerns being raised by coalition colleagues about the toughness of the e-cigarette restrictions.