A lot has changed since vaping first appeared in Australia. The technology has improved, the e-liquids have evolved, and perhaps most importantly to Aussies- the laws have continually shifted in an attempt to regulate a rapidly expanding market for e-cigarettes.
Australians continue to vape
The latest data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics shows that 9.3% of Australians aged 18 years and older have at least tried an e-cigarette or vaping device at least once. With its rising popularity, lawmakers have been hard-pressed to regulate the industry, and they have.
Vaping regulations have become more stringent
Today, Australia’s vapers are required by the Australian Government to possess a valid prescription written by a licensed doctor to purchase any vape products containing nicotine. While vaping continues to be popular in many countries, Australia is currently the only place on the planet where a prescription is required to vape with nicotine. Although there is now a prescription requirement that vapers in the country must adhere to, many vapers have jumped through the government’s hoops and obtained vaping prescriptions from their doctors, allowing them to freely purchase nicotine vape juice and e-cigs.
Where Australians buy their e-cigs and vape juice
Despite having a nicotine prescription, Australians who vape remain restricted in where they can buy their supplies. Presently, there are only two avenues for vapers in the country to purchase nicotine e-liquid and those are licensed pharmacies and overseas suppliers. As a result, those who have valid prescriptions still can’t walk into a local petrol station and buy what they need, nor can they venture over to a local vape shop as any vaping supplies sold outside of licensed pharmacies in the country are prohibited from selling any vaping products that contain nicotine. This has led many vapers to online vape stores run by overseas companies, which ship their wares directly to consumers in Australia under the TGA’s personal importation scheme.
Those who do not vape with nicotine are able to purchase nicotine-free vape juice locally at vape stores across the country. Some prefer to buy e-liquid that contains no nicotine and add the nicotine on their own. In order to accomplish this, some vapers order nicotine liquid online and later add it to the nicotine-free vape juice that they purchase.
Vape companies deliver countless options
Vapers in the country are by no means uniform in their preference for vaping hardware and e-liquid. The devices that vape companies deliver to the Australian marketplace vary greatly, providing consumers with a growing number of devices and flavours to select between.
With disposable vaping devices, vapers are often limited in what flavours and nicotine strengths they can choose between. However, the convenience of disposable devices supersedes the need for endless e-liquid options in the minds of some vapers, making them popular despite their rather obvious limitations.
Refillable vaping devices such as vape pens exist on the other end of the spectrum, giving users the option to pick from a growing number of e-liquid flavours that are available on the open market without the limitations seen in most disposables. Vape mods find themselves in this category, providing customisation options not often seen in other types of vaping devices.
While hardware changes are more apparent to some users, vape juices have also evolved. Today’s e-juices come in more flavours than ever before and nicotine options are less simple than they may seem. Nicotine salts are now commonplace, finding use in low wattage devices such as pod vapes. With different formulations now available, the once relatively simple notion of selecting the right nicotine strength has become more complex.
Despite all of the changes, simple e-cigarettes like those which first rose in popularity are still available today. The basic model has become known as a cig-a-like and many Australian vapers continue to use such devices, perhaps due to their simplicity and similarity to conventional cigarettes.
Options for Australians are limited
The reality that Australians who vape have been confronted with is that not all vaping products available elsewhere are available to Australian consumers, as not all vape companies ship their products to Australia. This means that Australians who want to try a particular device or e-juice might not have access to the product through local or online retailers.
Adding to the limitations, Australians must contend with the fact that local specialty stores catering specifically to vapers are prohibited from selling vape products that contain nicotine. As such, Australians cannot walk into local vape shops and simply pick up nicotine e-cigs or nicotine e-juice. Instead, such products must be purchased from a local pharmacy or imported for personal use from an overseas supplier of vaping products. Even then, a valid prescription is required.
All of this has added barriers for vapers in the country, however, Australian vapers have continued to vape despite the barriers. Obtaining a prescription for nicotine has been simplified to some extent thanks to telemedicine, which has allowed doctors to hold virtual meetings with patients. Similarly, virtual storefronts provide consumers with access to a variety of vaping products that can be conveniently shipped to their homes when ordered. As things are at the moment, there is no question that vaping in Australia will continue.
Vaping finds support from politicians
It’s not just members of the Australian public and businesses that stand to profit that support vaping in the country, there are also doctors and politicians that have voiced their support for the use of vaping devices in smoking cessation. Liberal Senator for New South Wales Hollie Hughes has called for nicotine vaping products to be utilised to decrease smoking rates, noting that such products have been shown to be a more effective smoking cessation tool in some cases than nicotine patches, gum, and other traditional smoking cessation tools.
When the prescription-only vaping model was first introduced with the backing of the Therapeutic Goods Administration and Health Minister Greg Hunt, Hughes along with National Matt Canavan and eight other MPs and senators spoke out against the prescription-only system prior to its implementation. At least for the time being, nicotine vaping products remain accessible only through the prescription model that is now in place.