Australian consumers now require a valid prescription from any of the country’s 100,000 medical practitioners to import nicotine vaping products purchased from overseas websites.
This is according to the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), the national regulatory authority for therapeutic goods.
The TGA says consumers should also ask overseas retailers to include a copy of their prescription with the order, as Australian Border Force officials can stop goods at the border that they suspect are unlawful imports and refer them to the TGA for further investigation.
Nicotine vaping products may be seized if there is no prescription provided by the importer, or enclosed in the package, and the goods may be destroyed and the importer fined, it warned.
Retailers can’t sell nicotine vaping products
“Consumers continue to require a valid prescription to purchase nicotine vaping products from Australia pharmacies. It remains, illegal for Australian retailers (such as tobacconists, ‘vape’ shops and convenience stores) to sell nicotine vaping products to consumers,” the TGA said.
“The new requirements balance the need to prevent adolescents and young adults from taking up nicotine vaping (and potentially cigarette smoking), while enabling current smokers to readily access nicotine vaping products for smoking cessation with appropriate medical support.”
According to the TGA, smokers and users of nicotine vaping products are encouraged to make an appointment with their GP to discuss their smoking cessation options.
While nicotine vaping products are not widely considered to be ‘first line’ smoking cessation treatments, they may be a reasonable intervention for people who have tried other approaches without success.
‘Thousands of unknown chemicals’ – study
Meanwhile, researchers at Johns Hopkins University in the US have found that vaping aerosols contain thousands of unknown chemicals and substances not disclosed by manufacturers, including industrial chemicals and caffeine.
The study is the first to apply to vaping liquids and aerosols an advanced fingerprinting technique used to identify chemicals in food and wastewater. The results, just published in the journal Chemical Research in Toxicology, suggest people who vape are using a product whose risks have yet to be fully determined and could be exposing themselves to chemicals with adverse health effects.
“Existing research that compared e-cigarettes with normal cigarettes found that cigarette contaminants are much lower in e-cigarettes. The problem is that e-cigarette aerosols contain other completely uncharacterised chemicals that might have health risks that we don’t yet know about,” said senior author Carsten Prasse, who is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Health and Engineering at Johns Hopkins.
“More and more young people are using these e-cigarettes and they need to know what they’re being exposed to.”