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Australia’s New Vape Sales Law Sparks Outrage Among Pharmacists

Australia’s New Vape Sales Law Sparks Outrage Among Pharmacists

Pharmacists in Australia are expressing significant concerns over a newly introduced law that restricts the sale of all vapes exclusively to pharmacies, aiming to curb recreational vaping across the nation.

In a controversial move, pharmacies will soon be authorized to sell nicotine vapes without the need for a prescription under this new legislation.

This initiative, intended to improve public health, has been met with strong opposition from pharmacists, who fear their establishments will be likened to modern-day tobacconists.

“This is just going to create more hassle for me,” a senior pharmacist shared with The Times.

Last Monday, responding to growing concerns about youth nicotine addiction, the Labor government implemented a ban on selling vapes, regardless of nicotine content, outside of pharmacies.

Australia is now the first country globally to enforce such a law.

The new regulations make it illegal to produce, distribute, or commercially possess non-therapeutic and disposable vapes within the country, with severe penalties including up to seven years in prison and fines up to A$2.2 million (£1.16 million) for individuals, and A$22 million (£11.6 million) for businesses.

Vapes sold must now be in plain packaging, a regulation that Australia first introduced for cigarettes over a decade ago.

Moreover, only three flavors—tobacco, menthol, and mint—are permitted, aimed at eliminating sweet flavors like bubblegum and candy floss that attract teenagers.

The nicotine content in vapes sold in pharmacies without a prescription is now limited to 20mg per ml, less than half of what is commonly found in many black-market vapes.

Australia has some of the toughest vaping laws globally. Since October 2021, using e-cigarettes with nicotine without a prescription has been illegal, and in January, the import of disposable vapes was banned.

Despite these measures, vaping rates among youth have surged, with cheap vapes being readily available in corner shops, petrol stations, online, and even in school playgrounds.

The latest National Drug Strategy Household Survey shows that the proportion of 14 to 17-year-olds who have tried e-cigarettes has nearly tripled from 9.6 per cent in 2019 to 28 per cent in 2022-23.

In the UK, legislation regarding the supply of tobacco, vapes, and related products is currently under review.

If passed, the Tobacco and Vapes Bill will prohibit selling tobacco to individuals under 15, supporting former Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s commitment to a smoke-free generation.

The bill, introduced to the UK Parliament on March 20, will also include new restrictions on vape flavors and packaging designed to appeal to children, relocating them out of sight and away from youth-targeted products like sweets.

Additionally, enforcement officers will gain the authority to issue on-the-spot fines of £100, alongside the existing maximum fine of £2,500, to ensure adherence to the new laws. It will also become illegal to provide free vape samples to individuals under 18.

Smoking, the UK’s leading preventable cause of death, is estimated to cost the NHS and economy £17 billion annually.

Under separate environmental legislation, the sale and supply of disposable vapes will be banned in England starting in April 2025.

Official figures reveal a threefold increase in the number of children using vapes over the past three years, with nine percent of 11- to 15-year-olds now affected by this trend in the UK.

Disposable vapes are largely blamed for the rise in youth vaping, with the number of 11- to 17-year-old vapers using disposables increasing nearly ninefold in the last two years.


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