In an unprecedented move against the rising popularity of vaping among the youth, Australia is planning to ban the importation of disposable vapes starting January 2023. The ban will escalate in March to include all non-therapeutic vapes, including refillable devices. This announcement was made by Health Minister Mark Butler, who stated that the ban is particularly aimed at curbing the appeal of nicotine products among young people.
Importation Regulations and Funding
Importers of vapes for medical purposes will need a permit from the Office of Drug Control to continue their operations. To enforce these new regulations, the government is pledging an extra A$75 million to the Australian Border Force and the Therapeutic Goods Administration. Despite Australia having one of the lowest smoking rates in the OECD, the vaping trend is escalating rapidly, particularly among the 18 to 24 age group.
Impact on Domestic Manufacturers
The impending legislative changes will also affect domestic manufacturers, as they will face similar prohibitions. The issue of vapes being marketed towards children with attractive designs and flavors, such as pink unicorns and bubblegum, was highlighted by Butler. As part of the new regulations, therapeutic vapes will have restrictions on flavors and nicotine levels. They will also be sold in pharmaceutical packaging starting next year. A transition period will be provided for manufacturers to adjust to these changes.
Prescribing Therapeutic Vapes
To avoid hindering smokers who wish to quit, the government will empower doctors and nurses to prescribe therapeutic vapes where clinically appropriate. This decision is part of the government's efforts to ensure that the bans do not limit access for smokers looking to quit. The vaping trend in Australia is increasing, particularly among the young generation, despite the country's low smoking rates. Approximately one in five individuals aged 18 to 24 vape, according to government data.
Historical Stance on Smoking
Australia has a long-standing record of combating smoking. In 2012, it became the first country to introduce 'plain packaging' laws for cigarettes, a policy that has since been copied by countries like France and Britain. The upcoming restrictions add to Australia's firm stance against nicotine addiction and its efforts to protect the younger generation.