Nicotine vaping products prescription only from 1 October 2021

Nicotine vaping products prescription only from 1 October 2021

October 30th, 2021

The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration announced in December 2020 that from 1 October 2021 a prescription would be required to legally access nicotine vaping products. This now means, that any Australian who wishes to obtain nicotine vaping products must visit a GP who is also an “authorised prescriber” (SwiftDoc is an authorised prescriber). If appropriate, that GP may then prescribe a three-month supply via a script, which can then be filled at a pharmacy, or imported from overseas via a Personal Importation Scheme.

This is quite a change to government policy surrounding vaping, so we thought we’d take a closer look at what vaping is, the role it may play in smoking cessation and what it means for smokers who are trying to quit.

__What is vaping and how common is it?

In a nutshell, vaping is the inhalation of a vapour created by a vaping device (sometimes called an e-cigarette). This vapour may or may not contain nicotine, and it is the nicotine-containing products that are the subject of the new legislation. According to the RACGP, use of nicotine vaping is on the rise with 11% of the population using the products (2019 figures).

A study by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare shows that 38% of current smokers have tried vaping at some point, and nearly 10% regularly use vaping products. 7% of non-smokers have also tried vaping. The TGA has found that e-cigarette use by young people increased 96% in Australia between 2015 and 2019.

What are the implications of the new legislation?

Prior to the introduction of the legislation, vaping products containing nicotine could be purchased without prescription in most states of Australia. Now, with the requirement of a prescription, those who require vaping products containing nicotine will need to discuss their requirements with a GP first, before receiving medically supervised access to these products. This means that nicotine vaping is still available to patients in Australia who wish to use it as a smoking cessation tool.

Is vaping as a smoking cessation tool the best option for me?

Any decisions around the best treatment options for any health issue can only be determined after discussion with your GP and other relevant medical professionals. Vaping may be recommended as a smoking cessation tool by your GP if you are considered an appropriate candidate. There could be a number of other options available to you to assist you in your desire to quit smoking. The Australian Government’s Department of Health lists a variety of options including:

• Going “cold turkey”, • Gradually cutting down, • Nicotine Replacement Therapy (NRT), • Prescription medications, • E-cigarettes (vaping) as a smoking cessation tool.

There are also a number of support services and tools available such as Quitline, online resources and books and the support of friends and family. The best approach for you is dictated by a variety of factors, such as your level of willpower, and your health in general.

Quit smoking

Why should I quit smoking?

Despite a decline in the rates of smoking over the years, tobacco smoking is still the leading cause of preventable diseases and death in Australia. It is estimated that 11.6% of adults smoked daily (in 2019), with a higher proportion of those being people in their 40s and 50s. The average number of cigarettes smoked per day is around 13. Despite the downsides of smoking, it is still common-place in everyday society, although pleasingly, 61% of adults report that they have never smoked. lists a number of health benefits that may be experienced by those who quit smoking including:

• Risk of developing heart disease or having a stroke drops over time. • Blood pressure can stabilise • Nicotine leaves your bloodstream • May get improved sense of taste and smell • Less coughing/wheezing as your lungs recover • Improved immune system, to fight off infection • May help with lower stress levels • Risk of developing lung cancer (and for women cervical cancer) is lower than if you’d kept smoking.

What are the next steps?

As always, the best first step when addressing any health issue is to make an appointment with a GP to discuss your personal circumstances, your medical history and your options for treatment. Your GP will be able to discuss with you the pros and cons of the options available to you for smoking cessation. As an authorised prescriber of nicotine vaping products under the new legislation, a SwiftDoc GP may choose to discuss this as one of the options available to you.
You can also find out more information about the health benefits and ways to quit smoking by visiting resources such as or Australian Government health websites.


Australian Government, Department of Health, Quitting methods. Sourced October 2021.

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Tobacco smoking. Sourced October 2021

Australian Pharmacist, New smoking cessation guidelines for pharmacists. Sourced October 2021.

Quit, The health benefits of quitting smoking. Sourced October 2021.

RACGP, Have GPs been supported for vaping to go prescription-only from October? Sourced October 2021.

Therapeutic Goods Administration, Australian Government Department of Health, Nicotine Vaping Laws are Changing. Sourced October 2021. * This website does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately dial Triple 0 (000).*


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