Vaping Nicotine is Illegal in Australia

Australia says no to nicotine again -- but are minds changing?

Just Say No

Just say no

It’s 2017. As vaping gathers steam, smoking in the U.S. and U.K. has dropped to record low
levels. Canada and France are considering regulation that recognizes vaping as a valuable
harm reduction strategy. Around the world, things are looking up.

But not in Australia.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration announced yesterday that nicotine would remain illegal
in e-cigarettes — and perfectly legal in combustible cigarettes. The 2.6 million smokers in Oz are
being told by their government that they’re free to quit or die. Without nicotine.

Last year when the New Nicotine Alliance-Australia proposed that the federal government legalize nicotine in e-cigarettes, vapers were optimistic that change might be around the corner. Offering Australia’s smokers a low-risk alternative seemed like a real possibility.

Well-known smoking cessation experts and harm reduction advocates like Prof. Colin Mendelsohn and Alex Wodak were on board. A letter from 40 high-powered experts was sent to the government, and support poured in from around the world.

“They are waiting for more research. And waiting. And waiting. And waiting.”

But Australia also boasts the highest number of prohibitionist public health nannies per capita in the world. The just-say-no anti-pleasure contingent down under is large and loud, and they didn’t sit still while a bunch of …addicts demanded rights. The wrote editorials and took to the airwaves to warn the Australian public about the Big Tobacco plot to addict a new generation.

And it worked. Simon Chapman spent the day gloating publicly, trotting out his favorite red herring. “The tobacco industry will unanimously condemn this decision,” said Chapman. “This is all anyone needs to know about why it should be welcomed.”

The cat's out of the bag

its time

But the jig may be up for the puritans like Simon Chapman. This near miss by the NNA created a lot of discussion, and minds are changing. People are learning that vaping isn’t a plot by Big Tobacco, and that it can help smokers. The word is spreading, and the public health safety patrol can’t dominate opinion forever.

“The problem is that the Australian public health establishment — God bless its cotton socks — is crippled by caution,” wrote Joe Hildebrand yesterday. “The peak bodies are worried there is still insufficient evidence about the potential harm of e-cigarettes. They are waiting for more research. And waiting. And waiting. And waiting.”

Hildebrand, an Australian columnist and TV personality, quit smoking with e-cigs. A typical story to vapers, but one that needs to be heard more often by the public. When an influential writer makes a compelling case, a few more dominoes fall.

Today it’s against the law to vape nicotine in Australia. But opinion is changing. The cat’s out of the bag. Vapers need to keep arguing our case at every opportunity, persuading friends and family, co-workers and neighbors. We all know people whose lives have been improved — and maybe even saved — by vaping. Spread the word.

Jim McDonald

I spend most of my time studying the regulatory, legislative and scientific challenges to vaping, advocating for our right to exist, and talking with others who do the same. Consider me a source for information, and feel free to agree or disagree with anything I say. I love good coffee and sweet Michigan cherries. My childhood hero was Gordie Howe.

  • anthony p franze

    I am a vaper form the land of OZ, we are in many respects a backwater and usually follow other countries before making up our own minds! Our government and pharma rely heavily on smokers because they rely on regressive taxation fo fill the coffers. but I digress! What would be great is if overseas companies could some how help out your poor Aussie vaping cousins and offer some discounts for us in terms of shipping etc, that would really piss off the establishment in Australia!

    • Pamela King

      Yes it seems the rules in Australia are pretty strict on most things. Apparently they are one of the top countries in the world for making rules of what you can and cannot do! How things have changed, when I arrived there in 1973 they had girls handing out free cigarettes from a cinema style box around their neck. Winston was the ones I remember getting the freebies from.

  • Pamela King

    I am going to Australia in a few weeks and have just been reading this article. I vape using 6mg of nicotine so does this mean I cannot take this into Australia? It is bad enough that I stop over in Dubai and you cannot carry any vaping gear in your hand luggage or it will be confiscated and destroyed! Even though they have a smoking room in Dubai. I find this ludicrous to say the least. So I am going on this long haul journey where I cannot even vape when I land for a couple of hours before my next long flight. So I would be better off being a smoker, as even though it is more expensive it is NOT banned! Please can someone advise me whether I have to take nicotine free vaping liquid with me as I was not aware of this ruling.

    • Jack Covington

      Hi Pamela,
      You can bring an amount considered ‘for personal use’.
      My brother recently visited Australia from the UK, via Dubai. He hand carried some which fell within the liquid limits which apply to all airlines without a problem. He also had a larger amount packed in his luggage.

      • Pamela King

        Thank you Jack. I cannot have any in my hand luggage as I am stopping off in Dubai for a couple of hours, due to their strict rules if any vaping equipment is found in your hand luggage it can be confiscated and destroyed! Therefore I think it will all have to be in my main luggage. I am purchasing some Nicotinell lozenges to help me out as this will mean that during the 20 plus hours in flight and 4 plus hours in airports I cannot have a vape at all, as once my main luggage has gone through thats it. Ridiculous, I think i have said that you can smoke in Dubai airport but not vape. I guess it must be down to it being a liquid and a possible terrorist threat.

        • Muneer Adam

          Hi Pamela I am in Dubai ATM from South Africa and I carry my limitless box mod hand luggage all the time shouldnt be a problem as long as you have less than 100 ml of liquid meaning of any sort. P.s you cannot Store batteries in your check in luggage they have to be in you hand luggage or on you.

          • Pamela King

            Hi Muneer, I am only taking mods that you charge with USB. Would they be a problem? So could I have one of these in my hand luggage and use it in the smoking room at Dubai airport? I read that they will not allow any vaping gear in hand luggage, so I thought i would have to put it all in my main luggage which would mean that I could not vape at all for the entire journey to Australia.

          • Muneer Adam

            Hi Pamela it really shouldn’t be a problem. Thou I know you not allowed to put any batteries or like cameras or valuebles in your check in luggage all has to be in your hand luggage. When vaping in dubai just be a bit more discreet and stealth vape if you can not blowing huge clouds. Like I said I am carrying a double battery box mod and I vape in the streets of dubai as well and haven’t had a problem… All the best hope your trip goes well

  • Daniel

    Hey pamela.

    You should be able to bring juice containing nictotine into the country, without any problems with customs.

    Under Australian Federal/National law, it is legal for us to import our own nicotine from overseas to add to our own 0mg Aussie juices. Or we can purchase juice containing nicotine from overseas and import that to Australia for use in vaper products.

    The law regarding possession of nicotine will vary from state to state, whilst it is legal to posses nicotine with a prescription in some states, its is illegal in others, but having flown domestic throughout the country, there is rarely any issue at all, as the laws aren’t very well enforced and most customs agents are familiar with the idea of vaping products, mods, tanks, rda’s etc, and as long as they are packed correctly, the will allow them through and think nothing more.

    Federal or National law trumps state law, so you should be able to bring nicotine juice with you, however you won’t be able to legally buy it, once inside the country from an Australian B&M or an Australian online vendor, so either bring enough to last you the whole holiday.

    Or make plans to purchase some nicotine once you arrive here and add it to some of our amazing Aussie juices whilst you’re here.

    I’m hopeful that Australia will follow the lead of the UK, Eu, USA and our neighnours New Zealand and legalise nicotine for use in vaper products in the future.
    Let’s keep up the fight.

    Enjoy your holiday.

    • Pamela King

      Thank you very much Daniel for your reply and letting me know that I actually can bring in nicotime juice. I tried lots of different websites and coulc not seem to find an answer as some made it sound as if you could use vape juice with nicotine and some websites made it sound as if you could not. I found a pdf document which showed all of the states of what you could and could not do legally and Queensland made it seem as if you could not vape any nicotine as it was illegal. I did visit Queensland back in 2013 but actually smoked at that time and was trying to vape to cut down on my smoking so used both. However, now I don’t smoke at all and i am not visiting Queensland on this visit, only South Australia (where I once lived) and New South Wales.
      These anti vaping laws are so complicated and utterly ridiculous and I just hope they do not change them over here, as apparently there are some new guidelines coming into force in March this year, I think from what I have heard they are going to reduce the size of liquid that you can buy to 10ml and reduce the size of the tanks to 2ml which is in the TPD ruling.
      Thanks once again.

      • Jim McDonald

        The other imminent TPD rule will maximize the strength of allowable e-liquid at 20 mg/ml.

        • Pamela King

          Yes, thats right JIm, as I am only using around 6mg max fortunately this will not affect me.

  • Annette H

    Pamela King Daniel is almost right. It is legal to import nicotine into Australia but only with a doctors prescription. Fortunately this is not being enforced a. Because customs have no way of knowing whether you have a script or not and b. No government wants to prosecute someone for giving up smoking. They know how bad that would look. Don’t panic we all purchase large quantities of 10% nicotine all the time and customs never take it. Just make sure you know what the battery policy of yr airline is.

    • Pamela King

      Thank you Annette. I am only on 5 or 6% nicotine now, down gradually from 14% but still cannot seem to give it up altogether, my husband is only on 3% now. The mods that i am intending to bring are chargeable ones with the USB connector and I even have a fireproof bag in which to charge them. Not sure on the size of the batteries in those but i will check it out before I leave on 22/2.

      • Jim McDonald

        Pamela, I hope you mean 5 or 6 mg/ml. Five percent nicotine would be 50 mg/ml — very strong indeed. Annette is suggesting using 10% nic (100mg/ml) to mix with flavors to make e-liquid at a much lower concentration.

        • Pamela King

          Yes I think it is 5 mg/ml, my husband mixes it and i know I am only on a low nicotine level.

  • Jack Covington

    I purchase my 12mg juice from the USA and the UK on a regular basis. The largest shipment I have brought in was 150ml. I have never had any issues.
    There are a number of sites based in the UK who bill you in Australian dollars. Personally, I prefer the US product which are available in 10ml and 30ml bottles. The UK has recently limited the sizes.

    • Pamela King

      We are soon to have 10ml bottles as a maximum here in the UK and 2ml tanks. So we too are going to see stricter rules. The world is big brother mad!