A guide to Australia’s laws on nicotine containing e-cigarettes


The legal landscape relating to electronic cigarettes is still in its infancy, although Australia has well developed laws relating to nicotine, cigarettes and tobacco. It can be confusing trying to work out what is legal and what is not when it comes to e-cigarettes in Australia.

The popularity of the product has exploded in recent years but many are saying the laws around them are lagging behind.

If you’re confused about the laws relating to importation, purchasing and using electronic cigarettes in Australia then read on below, we’ve put together a brief guide on the laws relating to electronic cigarettes.

Nicotine containing electronic cigarettes

The laws relating to nicotine containing e-cigarettes are understandably more highly controlled than for 0% electronic cigarettes. This is because the substance is a highly addictive substance which is identified as a schedule 7 dangerous poison by the Commonwealth Poisons Standard.

Whilst the laws vary from state to state there are some rules and restrictions in place across Australia limiting the supply, production and use of addictive substance containing electronic cigarettes.

Commercial retail sale and personal possession

Currently the sale and personal possession of nicotine is banned across Australia because of the existing laws that classify it as a dangerous poison. An e-cigarette has yet to be registered by the Therapeutic Goods Authority in Australia, although this may change in the future and would impact the regulatory landscape around the legal sale and possession of e-liquids, although pre-existing laws around the sale of imitation cigarette items might prevent their sale.

Importation for personal use

Although you cannot legally purchase e-cigs containing addictive substances in Australia you can legally import them for personal therapeutic use, although there are a number of important stipulations to remember.

Importers must have a prescription from a healthcare practitioner (unless travelling by plane). There must be no more than 3 months’ supply imported and it must be for treatment of the importer or immediate family. Even with these guidelines most states have their own rules around importation and use and importers might not be able to do it in their particular state.

Getting a medical certificate can also be difficult as some doctors may be unwilling to provide one for non TGA listed products.

It is not legal to import with the intention to sell products commercially.

Use of nicotine containing e-cigs in smoke-free areas

Each state has its own rules about using nicotine electronic cigarettes in public areas. In Queensland, Australia Capital Territory and Victoria the use of nicotine e-cigs is banned in all public areas. It is banned in motor vehicles in New South Wales.

Advertising and promotion of nicotine products

The advertising and promotion of substance containing products is regulated throughout Australia, each state has different rules and regulations pertaining to the promotion of addictive products and e-cigarette device but generally they cannot be openly advertised or displayed.

The rules around advertising and promotion are to prevent addictive substances from being promoted to children and to help with reducing addiction in Australia.

Australia has some strong regulations when it comes to the sale or promotion of tobacco based products, in a few states it is illegal to promote imitation cigarette products in an effort to reduce the rates of smokers.

E-cigarettes are a relatively new thing so there is currently not a lot of legislation relating directly to their sale, possession and promotion, although many of the existing rules do apply to them. As the research and popularity surrounding the product continue to grow so too will the legal landscape relating to electronic cigarettes.

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