Australia Announces Stringent Regulations on E-cigarettes

According to reports from multiple Australian media outlets, Australia’s Minister of Health, Mark Butler, has unveiled a series of regulatory policies regarding electronic cigarettes (e-cigarettes). Here is a comprehensive summary of two key aspects of these policies:

1. Starting from January 2024, the entry of disposable e-cigarettes into Australia will be prohibited.

2. Beginning January 2024, Australian doctors and nurses will have the authority to prescribe e-cigarettes to patients, who can then purchase them at pharmacies. This signifies an expansion of e-cigarette prescription privileges beyond general practitioners.

In addition to these measures:

– From March 2024, the personal import of e-cigarettes will be prohibited, meaning Australian consumers will no longer be allowed to purchase e-cigarettes from other countries.

– Also, from March 2024, the import of non-therapeutic open-system e-cigarettes will be banned.

There will be stricter regulations on flavors, nicotine concentration standards, and packaging, with the government stating that businesses will have a transition period to comply with the new requirements.

Furthermore, the government will prohibit domestic manufacturing, advertising, supply, and commercial ownership of non-therapeutic and disposable e-cigarettes in Australia.

Butler stated that these actions aim to counter the rising trend of young Australians using e-cigarettes, acknowledging that the plan is not without flaws.

Since May of this year, Australia has already decided to completely ban the sale of disposable e-cigarettes. The only legal means of purchase is through a prescription from a general practitioner, obtainable at pharmacies or overseas websites. Other methods, such as purchasing from tobacco shops or convenience stores, are considered illegal.

Previously, it was understood that the process of legally purchasing e-cigarettes in Australia involved consulting a general practitioner to obtain a prescription, with the prescription costing around 70 Australian dollars (approximately 330 Chinese yuan). The choice of treatment duration includes 3 months, 9 months, and 12 months, determined by the doctor based on individual circumstances. After obtaining the prescription, patients also need to contact the pharmacy to pre-order e-cigarettes, as most pharmacies do not regularly stock e-cigarette products. However, the number of e-cigarette brands available through compliant channels (pharmacies) in the country is limited.

Some individuals argue that Australia’s legal e-cigarette business has virtually no market, and the prescription system appears to be a formality. According to sources familiar with the Australian e-cigarette market, the compliant e-cigarette market share in Australia is less than 5%, while illegal products make up over 95%. According to information from the same sources, Australia still has a large number of e-cigarette retail stores, with over 2000 in Sydney alone.

Additionally, according to sources, Australian consumers who participate in the “personal import scheme” primarily purchase e-cigarettes from online stores in New Zealand. Therefore, it is expected that the New Zealand market may be impacted to some extent after the ban on the personal import scheme in March next year.