Importation of nicotine e-liquid runs out of puff

27 February 2020

The Senate has today backed Senator Stirling Griff’s motion calling for a ban on the importation of e-cigarette liquids containing nicotine, and for the Government to regulate the manufacture and labelling of nicotine-free e-cigarette liquid sold in Australia.

The motion succeeded 52 votes to three with Government and Labor’s support. Only One Nation and Senator Lambie were opposed.

Currently, it is legal to sell nicotine-free vaping liquids in Australia. The sale of e-cigarette liquids containing nicotine is not permitted domestically, however it is legal for a person to import a three-month supply of liquid containing nicotine for personal use.

“Current law is not enough to stop teens vaping with addictive nicotine.  It is a simple task for anyone under the age of 18 to access vaping paraphernalia, including e-liquids containing nicotine, through online retailers,” Stirling says.

The motion notes that teens are turning to vaping under the misapprehension it is safe, but a 2018 study in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health cautioned vaping may have a "gateway effect” to cigarette use, with two-thirds of the young people surveyed stating a preference for e-cigarettes containing nicotine.

Worryingly, even e-liquids marketed as nicotine-free have been found to include small amounts of this addictive substance.

In January 2019, the Therapeutic Goods Administration issued a warning to consumers regarding undisclosed by-products and toxic ingredients - including nicotine - in e-liquid sold in Australia. The TGA warning was prompted by a study, published in the Medical Journal of Australia, which stated there is little to no regulation of e-cigarette manufacture, and the frequency with which nicotine is detected in e‐liquids labelled “nicotine‐free” was concerning.

“I think it's great that the Government has supported the motion because it demonstrates there is collective will to take action on this under-regulated and worrying sector.”

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