Australian pharmacy lobby blasts plan for chemists to sell vapes

Australian pharmacy lobby blasts plan for chemists to sell vapes
  • PublishedJune 25, 2024

It will be illegal to sell vapes outside of a pharmacy in a matter of days.

Vapes will be sold only through pharmacies with people under 18 banned from buying them unless they have a prescription in a move that has been slammed by the healthcare professionals’ peak body.

The federal government cut a deal with the Greens to dump prescriptions for adults in order to clear the way for reforms to pass the Senate.

But the Pharmacy Guild of Australia wants prescriptions to remain in place, arguing pharmacists were healthcare professionals who dispensed medication that had a proven therapeutic benefit.

“Vaping has long-term patient harms, including cancer, lung-scarring and nicotine addiction,” a guild spokesperson said.

“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 electronic cigarettes will be in plain packaging and regulated and a doctor’s prescription will be the only way someone under the age of 18 can legally purchase a vape as part of the government crackdown.

Pharmacists will need to have a conversation with the user, provide information on health harms and offer alternative ways to stop smoking.

People will need to confirm their identity but pharmacies will not record patients’ data and there will be limitations on the amount of nicotine in each vape.

The government’s deal with the Greens stipulates that people who illegally use vapes will not face criminal penalties and there will be an eight-month amnesty period for personal possession.

Once the reforms are passed, it will be illegal as of July 1 for retailers to sell commercial quantities of vapes if they are not pharmacies and extra funding will be provided to help young people quit smoking.

Their supply, manufacture and import have also been outlawed.

The government’s initial model requiring a prescription would have put undue costs on consumers, Greens senator Jordon Steele-John said.

Vaping was a problem that needed to be addressed and a harm-minimisation approach had to be put in place, he said.

The laws protected young people and the community from recreational vaping “while ensuring that those who really need access to a therapeutic vape for help to quit smoking can get one,” Health Minister Mark Butler said.

The Nationals wanted to treat vapes like cigarettes by taxing and regulating them.

“That’s how we actually attack this and make sure the excise doesn’t go to organised crime but goes back into regional health,” Nationals Leader David Littleproud told Sky News.

The Australian Medical Association has criticised the Nationals’ push, saying the prescription model had not yet been given a chance.

“All of the laws that have been in the states and territories about not selling vaping products to people under the age of 18 have utterly failed because kids can get them easily, or older people just give them to kids,” President Steve Robson told ABC radio.

“Policies that promote it are just harmful and they’re a false economy and they don’t appreciate that we’ve got a window to do something great and help young Australians.”


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