Amendments to vaping legislation

Vapes are set to become available over the counter in pharmacies after the government agreed to amend its vaping legislation to secure the support of the Greens, according to reports. Under the new changes, vapes will not be a prescription-only medication and will instead be regulated as a schedule-three pharmacist-only medication, and be subject to plain packaging rules.

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia
The Pharmacy Guild strongly opposes this proposal pharmacists are healthcare professionals who dispense medication that provides a proven therapeutic benefit. No vaping product has been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration based on its safety, efficacy or performance. No vaping product is listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods.
Vaping has long-term patient harms, including cancer, lung-scarring and nicotine addiction. There is limited evidence to support the use of vaping products for smoking cessation and nicotine dependence.
The Senate’s expectation that community pharmacies become vape retailers, and vape garbage collectors, is insulting.
The Senate is about to make a bad decision. We urge the Senate to change course.
Everyone wants to keep illegal vapes out of the hands of kids and teenagers, but the Senate wants pharmacists to stock vapes next to children’s Panadol, cold and flu medicine, and emergency contraception.Australian experts comment on the changes.

Health experts
Associate Professor Becky Freeman from the School of Public Health, Charles Perkins Centre, University of Sydney is a tobacco control policy expert with over 20 years of experience in the field. Associate Professor Freeman said,

“This world first legislation shows Australia has made decisive action in preventing vaping and protecting public health, especially for young people.

The amended and proposed legislation will end the general retail sale of both nicotine, and non-nicotine vapes, and close loopholes exploited by the vaping industry that made it easy for young people to access addictive and harmful vapes. Vape access will be tightly controlled and all vapes will only available for sale behind the counter from pharmacies with valid ID.

While it is disappointing that the amended law will now allow vapes to be available as pharmacy-only medicines, instead of requiring users to have a prescription, this legislation remains a world-first approach in preventing easy access to vapes. Monitoring and enforcement will be crucial to ensuring the law prevents retailers from illegally selling vapes.

Our Generation Vape study found that 87% of young people found accessing vapes in Australia, EASY. This legislation means young people will no longer be able to readily purchase vaping products in the very same shops that sell sweets, ice cream, and soft drinks.

Restricting vape access is a public health priority. This law will mean that other vaping prevention efforts, like school-based education and media campaigns, are well supported and more likely to be effective.

It’s important to note that the new legislation will not be going after individual vape users, and a key component of the government’s initiative includes support for people who are addicted to smoking and vaping.”

Professor Jonine Jancey is a Professor in the School of Population Health at  Curtin University, Professor Jancey said:

“Mark Butler’s leadership in the vaping arena has been commendable and it’s so disappointing to see that, due to lack of support for vaping reform, his proposed legislation has now been watered down.

It seems nicotine vape products will be sold as a schedule 3 drug in a pharmacy. This means no longer will the doctor or nurse practitioner just prescribe the vape drug. Neither will they provide expert guidance regarding their use as a last-line smoking cessation device. Instead, they will be able to be bought by anyone over the counter.

Our elected members had a critical opportunity to make these a prescription-only vaping drug. This approach would have made these vaping drugs accessible to people who want to quit smoking while keeping them out of the hands of younger people.

It seems that an opportunity to prioritise community health has been lost!”

Professor Coral Gartner, School of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, The University of Queensland added,

“Minister Butler should be applauded for finding a workable solution that ensures health practitioner oversight of vaping product supply while reducing a key barrier for people who smoke from accessing products that can help them quit smoking.

Pharmacists were at the frontline of the Covid response by delivering vaccines in a way that maintained patient safety while reducing the burden on GPs. Pharmacists are trusted healthcare professionals who will supply vaping products for smoking cessation purposes to adults who smoke, rather than selling to kids as has happened with general retailers supplying vaping products.

The Government should also provide resources to enable pharmacies to invest in delivery of comprehensive smoking cessation support to accompany this model for therapeutic vaping product supply.

This option should also encourage manufacturers to seek full medicines approval from the TGA for their vaping products to participate in supply without a prescription via pharmacists.”

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