29 June 2020

Joint media release - Department of Health (ODC) and Australian Border Force

Update 26 June 2020

The implementation timeframe for the proposed prohibition on the importation of e-cigarettes containing vaporiser nicotine has been extended by six months to 1 January 2021.

To reduce the risk to public health through addiction to nicotine and nicotine poisoning, the Australian Government intends to ask the Governor-General in Council to make regulations from 1 January 2021 prohibiting the importation of e-cigarettes containing vaporiser nicotine (nicotine liquids and salts) and nicotine-containing refills unless on prescription from a doctor.

The Minister for Health, the Hon Greg Hunt MP, requested the Department of Health to work with the Australian Border Force on a new approach to regulating e-cigarettes containing vaporiser nicotine.

The prohibition would remain in place for 12 months pending finalisation of the public consultation on the regulation in Australia of nicotine products by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (the TGA) in the form of an amendment to the Poisons Standard. This would mean that vaporiser nicotine products, including nicotine-containing e-cigarettes would require a valid prescription (except for tobacco cigarettes or TGA-approved smoking cessation products such as gums, sprays and patches). As part of this consultation the proposal will also be considered by a Ministerial advisory committee. A final decision is expected to be announced early in 2021 for likely commencement mid-2021.

Under the import prohibition, individuals would still be able to vape using vaporiser nicotine-containing e-cigarettes if they have discussed their needs with their doctor and the doctor provides a prescription. For people who have been using these e-cigarettes with nicotine as a means to ending their cigarette smoking the Australian Government intends establishing a streamlined process for patients obtaining prescriptions through their GP. The extension of the implementation timeframe by six months to 1 January 2021 gives time for this to happen as well as giving patients time to discuss their needs with their doctor.

Individuals would get their vaporiser nicotine-containing e-cigarettes or nicotine-containing refills via a permission granted by the Department of Health to a doctor or medical supplier who would be able to import the goods using a courier service or by cargo service. The goods would not be able to be imported through international mail. Passengers who arrive in Australia with vaporiser nicotine containing e-cigarettes and nicotine-containing refills that match a prescription they are carrying with them, would be exempt from the prohibition.

The prohibition on imports for e-cigarettes or nicotine-containing refills would be consistent with the existing ban in all state and territories on the sale of e-cigarettes containing vaporiser nicotine.


For more information visit Prohibition on importing e-cigarettes containing vaporiser nicotine - questions and answers

Contact officer: Jenny Francis, Principal Legal and Policy Adviser, Health Products Regulation Group. Tel: 1800 020 653, Email: info@tga.gov.au