Australia’s looming vaping laws will be the toughest the world has ever seen, according to the Health Minister, with import bans on disposable vapes containing nicotine set to be introduced by the end of the month.
Health Minister Mark Butler said a new scheme phased in from January 2024 will start with a single law to enable state police and health authorities to enforce a ban on the import of all e-cigarettes except pharmaceutical products used to quit smoking.
“We’ve got some of the toughest laws ready to be introduced in the world,” Mr Butler told ABC.
“We’re going to put in place an import regulation in by the end of this year, probably next month, that bans the import of all disposable vapes and all other vapes that don’t comply with those standards.”
It came after Australian Border Force authorities seized some 35 tonnes of vaping products last week after importers attempted to sneak in products that were later found to contain nicotine.
The government announced in May that it would outlaw the importation of non-prescription vaping products in the biggest smoking reforms in a decade.
Under the rules, the only vapes legally allowed into Australia will be pharmaceutical products prescribed by a doctor and dispensed through a pharmacy to help people quit.
New measures will see packaging and flavours used for pharmaceutical vapes severely limited, and potentially extend laws banning workplace smoking to vaping.
Mr Butler said he met with health colleagues last week to discuss major concerns for millions of teenagers who will likely suffer from nicotine withdrawal as a result of the imminent bans.
More than 3.5 million Australians aged 14 and older smoke or vape according to June research released by Cancer Victoria.
“This is the number one behavioural issue in school communities around the country, indeed around the world ... it’s just driving people crazy. It’s driving parents crazy,” he said.