Australian Crackdown on Nicotine Imports Starts Today

Beginning today, the importation of nicotine e-liquids will be closely monitored by the Australian Border Force. Currently Australians can import nicotine liquid for vaping from overseas or purchase it from a small number of participating pharmacies, provided they have a valid doctor’s prescription.

Credit: Belyay

Consumers who fail to include a nicotine prescription with their order will be subject to a fine of up to $222,000. The new system will work if enough doctors, pharmacists, smokers and vapers are willing to comply and are provided with sufficient information, according to the Sydney Morning Herald. The article reports that very few are interested in complying with the rules and most are poorly informed. Little effort has been made to disseminate information about the new arrangements.

More than 2.5 million Australians still smoke. The National Drug Strategy Household Survey estimated that the number of Australians vaping was 240,000 in 2016 and 520,000 in 2019. If the number of Australians vaping is still increasing, as many as 600,000 may be vaping now, according to the article.

At present, only a very small number of people vaping have a prescription as is required. Most nicotine supplies are imported without a prescription or purchased from the black market. If compliance with the new arrangements is poor, then some will return to smoking while others will purchase supplies from the black market. Neither are good outcomes.