The Australian government has updated its vape laws with the Health Legislation Amendment Bill 2022. This update to the regulations was done on November 24, 2022.
This has been done to further tighten the government’s grip on the vaping industry.
The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Legislative Assembly determined the amendments are a necessary step in making it harder for various groups to be able to access vape products. Among these groups, the underage population was cited as the key focus for the amendments.
This new bill intends to “stops the sale of e-cigarettes from vending machines; enables stronger compliance testing to enforce the prohibition on sale of e-cigarettes to people under the age of 18; and extends therapeutic goods laws to enable action to be taken against sole traders,”
This is yet another set of regulations for a vaping industry that is already extremely restricted, which has allowed a huge black market to emerge.
While the goal of these changes is to make it harder for people to access e-cigarettes, there seems to be little in the way of combating the booming illicit trade networks that have taken hold in the country.
New Regulations Put In Place
The hope of these new regulations is to make it even more difficult for anyone without a vape prescription to get their hands on their preferred products. Of course, the underage population is the main target for these laws, being cited as the most vulnerable and at risk group.
The recent updates include prohibiting the sale of e-cigarettes from vending machines, as well as allowing for more action to be taken against sole traders, as well as corporations, under the extended Therapeutic Goods Administration.
“The government is aiming to minimize the harm caused in our community from smoking and vaping, particularly for young Canberrans. Reducing supply is a critical component of minimizing harm,” Dr. Devin Bowles said regarding the new regulations. “Through these legal changes, ACT Government officials will have the ability to check if e-cigarettes are being sold to minors, and to remove the ability for sale through vending machines.”
“Keeping e-cigarettes out of the hands of children and young people is one of the most important public health challenges of our time, and the community is up against powerful commercial interests,” he continued.
Dr. Devin Bowles is the CEO of the Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drug Association ACT (ATODA). ATODA is the Australian government’s division that controls and regulates the aforementioned substances.
One of the most interesting changes, or lack thereof, can be noticed when attention is turned to traditional cigarettes. The new amendments appear to have no changes in attempts to reduce the availability of actual cigarettes, the far more harmful product.
Without a focus on cigarettes, these regulations seem to confuse the huge difference in the harm profile of both of these products.
The Australian Vape Industry
Australia is viewed as the strictest country globally in terms of its crackdown on vaping. There are a huge number of laws that attempt to keep vape products out of reach for the vast majority of the population, minimizing the harm reduction potential of these products.
As with most of the countries that demonstrate strict vaping bans and restrictions, underage vaping is cited as the main reason for putting such regulations in place.
To even purchase a vape containing nicotine, a person must ascertain a nicotine prescription from a doctor. However, there is a flaw in the system.
It has become common knowledge how easily this system can be exploited. Online services like QuitRX mean almost anyone can essentially buy a prescription.
This has massively countered these regulations. This coupled with a surging black market has resulted in these prohibitions have been all but averted by anyone willing to break the law.
As many have noted, having such tight regulations can have stifling effects on a number of prominent factors in the context of the bigger picture.
The first is the lack of promoting vaping as a means to reduce the harm caused by traditional combustible cigarettes. The second is the promotion of illicit trade, fueled by arguably more dangerous products that have not gone through any form of regulation regarding ingredients and manufacturing processes.
The Emergence of A Vape Blackmarket
Along with being known for having extremely harsh vape laws, Australia is equally well-known for having possibly the largest vape black market globally.
History has demonstrated that prohibitions are the fastest way to sew the seeds for illicit trade, yet Australia has failed to recognize this.
“The more you restrict access to a product, the more likely that product ends up on the black market and we are seeing signs of that. Disposable vapes are illegal, yet you see them frequently,” said Theo Foukkare, the CEO of the Australian Association of Convenience Stores. “At the moment, there’s no proper regulation to control who imports the product and what’s in the product – it’s all coming from overseas.”
This lack of regulation is a result of having such strict bans in place. If the Australian government instead opted to adopt vaping and promote a well-regulated industry, the concern about harmful ingredients becomes null.
The Australian government has continued its history of stiflingly harsh vape laws with the Health Legislation Amendment Bill 2022 which was passed on Nov. 24, 2022.
By increasing law enforcement on existing vape regulations, as well as reducing the availability of e-cigarettes through means like vending machines, the government is hoping to reduce the vaping population of both adults and minors.
This is in a country where legal loopholes and a thriving vape black market continue to fly in the face of such laws.