The Ministry of Health has suspended a ban on the import of nicotine liquid into Australia.
The Therapeutic Drug Administration (TGA) will enforce the ban from July 1, which will prevent the import of e-cigarettes and nicotine supplements for the first 12 months. It will also impose fines on imports of up to $220,000.
However, Health Minister Greg Hunt has now postponed the ban for half a year to enable TGA to conduct a formal review and consultation on the classification of nicotine in the drug standards. The ban now scheduled to take effect on January 1, 2021.
The move made before the decision to withdraw the declaration under political pressure, including 28 members of the Liberal Party and the National Assembly, including Barnaby Joyce, demanded the lifting of the ban.
In a statement on postponing smoking ban, Minister Hunt stated that this decision made to help those who use electronic cigarettes to help them quit smoking.
"In order to assist this group is continuing to end that addiction we will, therefore, provide further time for implementation of the change by establishing a streamlined process for patients obtaining prescriptions through their GP," he said.
"For this reason, the implementation timeframe will be extended by six months to January 1 2021. People should always be consulting their GP on these health matters and ensuring this is the right product for them. This will give patients time to talk with the GP , discuss the best way to give up smoking, such as using other products including patches or sprays, and if still required, will be able to gain a prescription."
However, Jeff Rogut, CEO of the Australian Convenience Stores Association, believes that the policy should wholly be abandoned because it will make it harder for people to quit smoking.
Rogut said that there are currently 400,000 quitters in Australia using e-cigarettes. Except for Turkey and Australia, all OECD member countries consider e-cigarettes legal, regulated, and taxed. Therefore, the government should seek better regulatory policies in the Australian market.
"Making it harder for people to access products that research shows are safer than traditional tobacco, and which have helped many people quit smoking, makes no sense. We need to make it easier for people to access such products," Mr. Rogut said.
"And we need to do it as safely and responsibly as we can. This means ensuring vaping products are of a mandated quality, that their ingredients are known and clearly displayed, that they are sold in tamper-proof packaging and that they are sold to adult consumers only through responsible retailing channels."
Rogut also believes that many people are reluctant to find prescriptions from GPs, and many GPs are also unwilling to prescribe e-cigarette products, which will help the black market.
"We know from the spike in illicit tobacco in Australia that criminals are more than capable of flooding the market with illegal products to satisfy consumer demand for cheaper alternatives to excessively taxed legal tobacco. It will be the same with vaping if we don't regulate the legal sale of vaping products, and a black market for these products has already emerged," he said.
"We need the Australian government to progress in line with the rest of the world and regulate the legal sale of e-cigarettes, with products of known quality and ingredients, sold through proven responsible channels. Then, and only then, can we genuinely offer Australian smokers a safer alternative to smoking, and another option to help them quit for good."
This article is issued by VAPE.HK.