• April 23, 2024

Australia Cracks Down on Tobacco and Vapor

 Australia Cracks Down on Tobacco and Vapor
Photo: Photo: nui7711

The government of Australia plans to crack down on illicit tobacco trade and increase tobacco excise by 5 percent annually for three years from Sept. 1, reports The Guardian.

“These changes to tobacco excise are part of the government’s response to the National Tobacco Strategy and related initiatives on vaping and smoking prevention and cessation, and an enhanced regulatory approach to vaping,” the budget papers say.

In addition, Australia will ban the import of all vaping products sold without a prescription, including e-liquid and hardware that contains no nicotine, reports Vaping360.

In a recently published document, the government outlined its long-term vaping and tobacco plan.

The government’s plan comes in the wake of growing concern about disposable nicotine vapes sold in convenience stores. Its proposed measures, however, will also impact Australia’s specialized vape shops.

Rules for non-nicotine vapes will be tightened as well, with a ban on nontobacco flavors and a requirement to sell products in plain packaging.

The government says it will also reduce allowable nicotine strengths and ban disposable vapes outright.

Health Minister Mark Butler blames the tobacco industry—which sells no vaping products in Australia—for creating a “new generation of nicotine addicts.”

Critics say the plan will not benefit public health because it will continue to allow consumers to buy cigarettes—and without a prescription—at every corner store in Australia.

In its press release announcing the new measures, Butler says new tobacco taxes will raise an additional $3.3 billion over the next four years. Australia already has one of the highest cigarette tax rates in the world, which has led to a large illicit tobacco market.

Nicotine vaping products have been illegal in Australia without a prescription for many years, but the laws have been widely ignored by vapers, who imported nicotine from overseas and made their own e-liquid or bought zero-nicotine vape juice from vape shops and added nicotine, according to Vaping360.

In 2021, the previous Liberal coalition government launched a revised prescription-only model for nicotine vaping products and promised to ramp up border enforcement. However, few doctors chose to participate in the prescription program, and most consumers weren’t interested. Vape shops were allowed to continue selling zero-nicotine e-liquid and vaping hardware that contained no nicotine. Soon after, disposable vapes flooded Australia (and the rest of the world).

The current government says it will make it “easier to get a prescription for legitimate therapeutic use,” but it’s not clear that vaping consumers will be eager to jump through medical hoops to buy flavorless or tobacco-flavored, low-nicotine vape products.