From Friday 1 October 2021, consumers will no longer be able to buy nicotine vaping products from overseas websites without a valid doctor’s prescription.
FILLING A PRESCRIPTION FROM AN AUTHORISED PRESCRIBER
- Please note that the link provided is not an exhaustive list. The TGA has approved a total of 71 Authorised Prescribers across the country and you should speak to your GP about either having them apply to the TGA to become an authorised prescriber or refer you to one of these practitioners.
- You will be able to fill your prescription at your local pharmacy.
PERSONAL IMPORTATION SCHEME
You can import your nicotine vaping products through the Personal Importation Scheme when purchasing from an overseas online retailer.
You will need to send your prescription from an authorised provider to the retailer and arrange for a copy of your prescription to be enclosed in the package.
The Australian Border Force will be able to refer the goods to the TGA if no prescription is enclosed.
Through this scheme, you will be allowed to order a maximum of three months’ supply at a time and a maximum of 15 months’ supply in a 12-month period.
If you wish to import more than a 3 months’ supply in one order, your authorised prescriber will be required to apply to the TGA for approval via either the Special Access Scheme or the Authorised Prescriber Scheme to allow the prescription.
Your GP will not need to apply for access to an unapproved medicine if you choose to access your nicotine vaping products through the Personal Importation Scheme.
Products that you buy overseas are subject to some (but not all) of the requirements under the new standard. Click here to see more about the nicotine vaping requirements under the Therapeutic Goods (Standard for Nicotine Vaping Products) (TGO 110) Order 2021.
You (or your GP) may want to contact the overseas supplier to check if the product meets the regulatory requirements and has appropriate packaging, labelling, and manufacturing controls.
If you are travelling into Australia from overseas, you may bring nicotine vaping products for personal use if you have a prescription and meet the other requirements for the traveller’s exemption.
Nicotine vaping products are ‘unapproved therapeutic goods’. This means that they are not currently registered under the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods. However, there are still pathways to access these products.
Nicotine vaping products are a Schedule 4 medicine under the Poisons Standard. This means that using or supplying these products is only available through a prescription only.
Selling nicotine vaping products to consumers without a prescription is illegal in Australia. The possession of these products without a prescription is also illegal (except in South Australia).
The new laws that require prescriptions for overseas purchases apply to the following products:
- nicotine e-cigarettes
- nicotine pods
- liquid nicotine
The new laws do not apply to the following products:
- nicotine replacement therapies (sprays, patches, lozenges, chews, and gums)
- vaping products that do not contain nicotine
You can speak to your GP about organising a nicotine vaping product prescription for smoking cessation.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I IMPORT NICOTINE VAPING PRODUCTS ILLEGALLY?
If there is no prescription in the package containing your nicotine vaping products, the Australian Border Force may refer the import to the TGA for assessment.
The TGA will then contact you to ask for a copy of your prescription.
If you are unable to produce a copy of your prescription, the TGA can request that the Australian Border Force seize the products.
For repeated and deliberate non-compliance, the TGA may issue infringement notices, civil court proceedings, and even criminal prosecution.
The maximum penalty for this offence is a $220,000 fine under Section 50 of the Customs Act 1901 (Cth).