Millions of Aussies could now pay up to $150 for a single vape as they are forced to get a GP prescription under tough new rules.
New data from the Health Department predicts about 450,000 people will need prescriptions for a nicotine vapes each year requiring almost one million additional visits to the doctor.
The changes come under Australia’s total import ban on non-therapeutic and disposable single-use vapes which came into force on January 1.
Under the new rules, the only vapes legally allowed into Australia will be pharmaceutical products prescribed by a doctor and given out by a pharmacy to help people quit smoking.
It’s estimated the new reforms will cost people up to $52.1m every year in additional visits to the GP and pharmacy and up to $67.5m on vaping products.
There are an estimated 1.3 million adult vape users in Australia, with only 8 per cent or 70,000 users currently having a doctor’s prescription.
Federal Health Minister Mark Butler said the changes would protect Australians, particularly young people, from the harms of vaping and nicotine dependence.
According to the Health Department the illegal market for vapes in Australia represents a “significant” portion of supply and is worth over $400 million annually.
The analysis cited substantial fears that tougher regulations will enable illicit sales to flourish.
“Fears that extra regulation may incentivise growth in the black market for nicotine vapes must also be acknowledged … This is a legitimate risk as tighter regulation will often raise the risk of black-market sales,” it said.
According to the Health Department the government’s new reforms would be a success if prescriptions increased and vaping rates among young people were reduced by mid-2026.
Under the new laws, other measures will see packaging and flavours used for pharmaceutical vapes severely limited, and potentially extend laws banning workplace smoking to vaping.
Health Minister Mark Butler said the new laws were ‘critical’ to drive the national smoking rate down to five per cent by 2030.
“The government is determined to support Australians tackling nicotine dependency and this next-generation reform will cease any form of enticement.”