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Ongoing Rise in Illegal Vape Devices in Australia


Time to read 2 min

Australia has taken a different approach to vape use than other countries have. Rather than taking the Commonwealth stance of strict regulation and monitoring of the chemicals used, the Australian government decided that vapes would only be available via prescription.

Vaping on Prescription

This legislation came into play back in October 2021. It concerns all electronic cigarettes which contain nicotine and prevents anyone from using one who has not had a consultation with their doctor.

The Australian government introduced fines and harsh penalties for those found vaping without a prescription, thereby effectively sending vaping underground alongside harder drugs with far worse consequences. By imposing these strict penalties, the vape movement have gone underground, buying and selling on the illegal market.

The idea of vaping on prescription itself is not so strange in the current medical climate. Since tests have shown UK regulated vaping devices are up to 95% less harmful than smoking cigarettes is, the NHS sought to introduce similar measures in the past.

It was only within recent years that the NHS themselves chose to trial run vape devices as stop-smoking aids. Although not currently universally available, results have been fascinating in similar trials. One study showed vape devices provided a greater chance of successfully quitting smoking than the Nicotine Replacement Therapies the NHS currently have in place.

So although it seems outlandish to we Brits who have legal, if regulated, vaping freedom, the use of vapes on Australian soil is only allowed via a verified doctor. The problem remains, however, that this has pushed vape use underground.

The Problem with Vaping on Prescription

What started with a government trying to control the harm exposure to its citizens has progressed into the creation of a massive underground market of illegally imported vapes. These are notoriously dangerous in the UK, since they contain illegal chemicals, may not have gone through safety testing, and – let’s face it – could blow up in your face.

The importation of these illegal vapes has brought new concerns to light over vaper safety. Those who use disposable vapes to stop smoking and then have that prescription ended are in a vulnerable position and are likely to take the illegal route. This puts them in unnecessary danger over the quality of the product.

In response, the Australian government have had their hands full chasing offenders here, there, and everywhere. This strikes a parallel between the illegal vape market in the UK, which has Trading Standards running in circles.

Banning Imported Disposables

The latest move was introduced on January 1st, 2024. The Australians have now banned all disposable vape products from entering the country. This has extended to all vapes – with or without nicotine in them.

The ban expands on March 1st, 2024, to cover those rechargeable vape devices coming into Australia which don’t contain nicotine, leaving some vaping enthusiasts both baffled and disappointed. This move will also bring a list of specific product requirements for imported vapes to the forefront of the notoriously disciplined Australian importation team, similar to those which already exist within the UK.