Home | News | Only on prescription: Under 18s can buy vapes in new government legislation
Health Minister Mark Butler struck a deal with the Greens on Monday to move the sales of vapes into pharmacies. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Martin Ollman

Only on prescription: Under 18s can buy vapes in new government legislation

Vapes will be made available at pharmacies without a prescription after the Albanese government backtracked on its plan to ban the commercial sale of e-cigarettes so it could strike a deal with the Greens.

Health Minister Mark Butler secured support on Monday from the minor party for Labor’s plan, which originally limited vape access to prescription-only pharmacy sales.

While the ban will be in place from July 1 as originally intended, from October individuals will be able to purchase vapes from behind the counter following a conversation with a pharmacist about the health harms associated with vaping.

Individuals will have to provide ID to purchase vapes, while restrictions will also limit nicotine concentration.

Children under the age of 18 will be still able to buy vapes, but will require a doctor’s prescription to do so.

School, parent and medical associations have been advocating for the complete ban of recreational vape use by children under the age of 18 after data revealed nine out of 10 vaping stores are within walking distance of schools, and almost one in 10 people over the age of 14 have used e-cigarettes. 

Possession of personal quantities of vaping products will not be subject to criminal charges, with penalties targeting possession and distribution of commercial amounts.

Announcing the overhaul, Mr Butler said the deal had followed constructive engagement with the cross bench.

“Our world-leading laws will return vapes and e-cigarettes to what they were originally sold to the Australian community and to governments around the world as – therapeutic products to help hardened smokers kick the habit,” Mr Butler said.

“These laws protect young Australians and the broader community from the harms of recreational vaping, while ensuring that those who really need access to a therapeutic vape for help to quit smoking can get one from their local pharmacy.”

Greens health spokesman Jordan Steele-John said regulation of vapes had to ensure former smokers were not incentivised to return to cigarettes.

“That’s why the Greens have focused on making sure adults can get access to therapeutic vapes when they need them,” Senator Steele-John said.

“We’ve moved the government from a cost-prohibitive prescription model to a model where adults can pick up a vaping product from their local pharmacy without a prescription.”

Senator Steele-John had previously raised concerns that vape users could face excessive cost and considerable difficulty in obtaining a script when they were trying to quit smoking.

Analysis conducted by the Health Department in January showed a prescription-only model for vape sales could require up to a million new GP visits a year.

With the Nationals calling for vapes to be regulated akin to cigarettes, Mr Butler called on the Liberal Party, whose position on vaping regulation is yet to be finalised, to support the pharmacy-only sales plan.

“Peter Dutton and all Liberal senators now have a choice: will they side with the Nationals and big tobacco against the concerns of parents and teachers, or will they join with a majority of the parliament in protecting the health of young Australians for generations to come?” Mr Butler asked.

Do you have an idea for a story?
Email [email protected]

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*