NICOTINE

Currently selling or supplying nicotine is against Australian law. However, it is legal to buy, possess and use liquid nicotine for vaping with a prescription from a registered Australian medical practitioner.

LEGISLATION

Under Australian law, it is illegal to buy, possess or use liquid nicotine for vaping without a prescription from a registered Australian medical practitioner.

In Australia, medicines and poisons are listed in the Poisons Standard and are classified into categories called Schedules, which determine how they are regulated. Nicotine is classified as a Schedule 7 ’dangerous poison’, along with arsenic and strychnine. The exceptions to this classification are nicotine in tobacco for smoking and medicinal nicotine replacement products.

However, importation, use and possession of liquid nicotine for a ‘therapeutic use’ (eg to quit or reduce smoking or to prevent relapse) are legal if the user has a prescription from an Australian medical practitioner. It is then classified as a Schedule 4 product (prescription only) and it is permissible to possess or use it for personal use.

1. TGA Personal Importation Scheme

You can legally import nicotine from overseas to help you quit or reduce smoking under the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) Personal Importation Scheme. You may import 3 months’ supply at a time for personal use, up to a total of 15 months’ supply per year. The law requires you to have a prescription from a registered Australian doctor. Keep the script at home, or as a photo on your phone in case it is required. However, the TGA warns that there may be risks in importing nicotine from overseas suppliers as quality cannot be guaranteed.

2. Australian compounding pharmacies

Authorised Australian compounding pharmacies can legally prepare nicotine e-liquid if provided with a doctor’s prescription for a therapeutic purpose.

Preparation and supply of liquid nicotine for a particular person is legal under the ‘Compounding exemption’ in item 6 of Schedule 5 to the Therapeutic Goods Regulations 1990.

Illegal nicotine

It is ILLEGAL to source liquid nicotine in Australia without a prescription. Purchase of illegal nicotine ‘under the counter’ is STRONGLY DISCOURAGED. There are no guarantees of product quality or safety or that the liquid is what it claims to be. It is also an offence under state laws.

  • NSW
  • VIC
  • QLD
  • TAS
  • SA
  • WA
  • NT
  • ACT

NSW

  • Liquid nicotine cannot be sold without approval from the Ministry of Health. No retailer has been granted this approval
  • Sale of vaporisers (without nicotine) is legal but products must not make a therapeutic claim such as ‘this product will help you quit or reduce smoking’)
  • Vending machines: restricted to areas > 18 year-old areas eg hotels, clubs or casino areas
  • Sale from a single point of sale in each retail outlet (one cash register). No sale from booth, tent, market stall or temporary structure
  • Vaping is not allowed in smoke-free areas (1 July 2018)
  • Smoke-free areas where people cannot smoke or use e-cigarettes are:
    • All indoor public places
    • Outdoor public places:
      • Within 10 metres of children’s play equipment in outdoor public places
      • Public swimming pools
      • Spectator areas at sports grounds or other recreational areas used for organised sporting events
      • Public transport stops and platforms, including ferry wharves and taxi ranks
      • Within 4 metres of a pedestrian access point to a public building
      • Commercial outdoor dining areas
    • In a car with a child under 16 years of age in the vehicle.

    Using e-cigarettes on public transport vehicles such as trains, buses, light rail, ferries is also banned under the Passenger Transport (General) Regulation 2017.

    Individual establishments and workplaces such as businesses, councils and other organisations may develop their own smoke-free policies to ban the use of e-cigarettes within the premises

  • No use in cars with children under 16y

VIC

  • Liquid nicotine cannot be sold without approval from the Ministry of Health. No retailer has been granted this approval.
  • Sale of vaporisers (without nicotine) is legal but products must not make a therapeutic claim such as ‘this product will help you quit or reduce smoking’
  • Vending machines: restricted to areas > 18 year old areas eg hotels, clubs or casino areas
  • A single price board at point of sale. No sale from booth, tent, market stall or temporary structure
  • Cannot be used in smoke free indoor and outdoor areas
  • No use in cars with children under 16y
  • Sale to minors (<18y) is an offence

QLD

  • Liquid nicotine cannot be sold without approval from the Ministry of Health. No retailer has been granted this approval.
  • Sale of vaporisers (without nicotine) is legal but products must not make a therapeutic claim such as ‘this product will help you quit or reduce smoking’
  • Cannot be sold from a vending machine
  • Cannot be displayed in a retail outlet. No sale from booth, tent, market stall or temporary structure. Cannot be sold from more than one point of sale.
  • Cannot be used in smoke free indoor and outdoor areas
  • No use in cars with children under 16 years
  • Sale to minors (<18 years) is an offence

TAS

  • Liquid nicotine cannot be sold without approval from the Ministry of Health. No retailer has been granted this approval
  • Retailers must be licensed and are required to undertake future reporting (refer to the link below for details
  • Sale of vaporisers (without nicotine) is legal but products must not make a therapeutic claim such as ‘this product will help you quit or reduce smoking’
  • Vending machines: restricted to areas > 18 year old areas eg hotels, clubs or casino areas. A member of the public cannot operate a vending machine
  • No sale from booth, tent, market stall or temporary structure
  • Vendors are not allowed to put pictures of vaporisers or e-liquid on their websites
  • Cannot be used in smoke free indoor and outdoor areas
  • No use in cars with a child present
  • Sale to minors (< 18 years) is an offence

SA

  • Liquid nicotine cannot be sold without approval from the Ministry of Health. No retailer has been granted this approval
  • Hardware and e-liquid (without nicotine) is legal to sell according to some advice but questions are raised because ‘products that resemble cigarettes’ are illegal to sell. To date, this appears to be unenforced
  • Can be used in smoke free indoor and outdoor areas Individual establishments can develop own policies to restrict use
  • No restrictions on vaping in cars

WA

  • Liquid nicotine cannot be sold without approval from the Ministry of Health. No retailer has been granted this approval
  • Sale of vaping devices is banned in WA by way of a court ruling in 2014 (upheld on appeal in 2016) which found that they resemble tobacco products. E-liquid (without nicotine) is legal to sell. Refer to the below links for further explanation
  • Can be used in smoke free indoor and outdoor areas. Individual establishments can develop own policies to restrict use
  • No restrictions on vaping in cars

NT

  • Liquid nicotine cannot be sold without approval from the Ministry of Health. No retailer has been granted this approval
  • Hardware and e-liquid (without nicotine) is legal to sell
  • Can be used in smoke free indoor and outdoor areas Individual establishments can develop own policies to restrict use
  • No restrictions on vaping in cars

ACT

  • Liquid nicotine cannot be sold without approval from the Ministry of Health. No retailer has been granted this approval.
  • Sale of vaporisers (without nicotine) is legal provided the seller holds a tobacco licence but products must not make a therapeutic claim such as ‘this product will help you quit or reduce smoking
  • Cannot be sold from a vending machine if the public has use of the vending machine
  • Cannot be displayed in a retail outlet. Cannot be sold from more than one point of sale in an unlicensed premises.
  • Cannot be used in smoke free indoor and outdoor areas
  • Sale to minors (<18 years) is an offence

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