Australian Vaping Laws: Will Strict Measures Backfire?
There was big news in Australia recently with the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) – the country’s drug regulatory agency – passing a new law that means anyone wishing to purchase vaping products will now need a prescription.
Previously, it was illegal to buy or sell vaping products in most Australian territories, but vapers were able to get around the law by purchasing their products from overseas. This latest move – effective as of October 1st – means this legal loophole has now been closed, and anyone without a prescription obtained from a doctor will now be unable to import vaping products into the country.
Why has the TGA decided to introduce this new law?
After concerns were raised over youths accessing vape products, the TGA decided this was the best way to curb use among youngsters while ensuring smokers still had an avenue to wean themselves off cigarettes.
However, guidelines recently set out by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners stipulate vaping products should only be offered to smokers as a last resort, so it looks as though many Australian vapers are likely to see their request for a prescription denied.
Problems with the new rules already
Despite some opposition to the move, the Australian government decided to press ahead, but after being introduced just a couple of months ago the new law is already causing issues, with the peak body representing the country’s general practitioners issuing a warning over pop-up telehealth websites that are now offering consultations.
These websites have sprung up in response to the tighter rules, and ads such as “vaping scripts in minutes” and “guaranteed vaping prescriptions” have started appearing on the screens of browsers, prompting warnings from healthcare professionals who cautioned that using the sites could disrupt the continuity of care for patients.
Not a great start by any means, but while these early teething problems are far from ideal, there may be much larger issues lurking just around the corner.
Black market sellers ready to step in
When the new law was first proposed, it was pointed out that a large number of Australian vapers are ‘dual users’, meaning they also smoke cigarettes. Thus, to obtain their vape products, these people will have to lie about their intention to quit. Add to that the number of people who exclusively vape, and suddenly you’ve got hundreds of thousands of people who’ll be forced to choose between lying to their GP and having to go without their vaping products.
Faced with this conundrum, many might choose to simply take their money elsewhere.
While some vapers or dual users may be comfortable fabricating stories to their GP to obtain a prescription, others will inevitably turn to the black market instead, which will be ready to welcome them with open arms.
After the ban was announced, at Vapoholic we noticed a sudden flood of bulk orders from Australia, which demonstrates just how desperate Australian vapers are to get their hands on their vaping products when they’re prepared to make large orders from the other side of the world!
More people using dangerous products
Australian vaping laws are now some of the strictest in the Western world, so it’s inevitable some people will be forced to navigate the dark, murky, unregulated underground to get their vape products. Is this the best way to make vaping safer? It certainly doesn’t seem like it.
Counterfeit vapes and knock-off E-liquids are already a serious issue in Australia and beyond, posing a significant health risk to those who use them. Forcing more people underground to purchase their products from the black market seems like a great way to make the problem even worse.
With Changes to Australian vaping laws, will some vapers now turn to smoking for their nicotine?
Another potential issue with effectively banning the sale of vapes to non-smokers is where will those who exclusively vape now get their nicotine? Some will no doubt turn to cigarettes, which would be completely counterproductive.
As mentioned already, doctors have been advised to hand out prescriptions for vaping products as a last resort, with other nicotine replacement therapies likely to be offered first. For those dead set on getting their hands on something stronger, it’ll now be a straight choice between purchasing cigarettes or buying vaping products from the black market.
It’s still early days, so whether or not the Australian government’s decision to ban vaping products for those without a prescription will eventually backfire remains to be seen. However, as we’ve already seen, things haven’t gotten off to the best of starts, and it’s clear there are some real challenges ahead if they’re to make these new rules work effectively.
If you’re interested to know how vaping can help you quit smoking, why not take a look at our Vaping Health Facts guide? There you can learn all about the positive impact using vaping to quit smoking can have on your health.