Vaping, despite its rapid rise as a viable alternative to traditional tobacco cigarettes for those who are striving to give up smoking, is causing perplexity among lawmakers worldwide, including in Australia, as they look to ascertain where e-cigarette devices stand with regards to public use and in comparison, especially where health and safety is concerned, to traditional cigarettes.
Vaping in Australia is very complicated from a legal viewpoint, and many laws in the country are about as strict as you will find anywhere, although they differ between different states, thereby adding to the confusion. In Australia, nicotine cannot be sold except as a licensed medication, because it is classed a Schedule 7 poison. However, vapers in Australia can buy both refillable devices and nicotine-free ones from reputable and well-regarded companies as Vaper Empire and Volcano, as long as the laws specific to their state allow it. Despite this, however, and perhaps to add a little more confusion into the mix, nicotine liquids may be imported into Australia, as long as state laws allow. In fact, the majority of vapers in Australia do just this to get their nicotine e-liquids.
Many vapers in Australia are understandably frustrated by the fact that cigarettes, despite the substantial controls on them, remain more readily obtainable than devices that offer a safer substitute.
Because laws on vapers and vaping vary so much between different Australian states, let’s take a look at the various vagaries.
- Western Australia: This is one of the sternest Australian states with regards to vaping laws. E-cigarettes, whether nicotine or nicotine free, are legal to use, but local government laws have made it very difficult for users, nonetheless. E-cigarettes are categorized under the 2006 Tobacco Prodcuts Control Act as products that mimic smoking. This no applies to the way products are used, not just their size and shape, which was originally the case. Therefore, devices cannot be used in any place where smoking is banned. Vapers in Western Australia can still import nicotine for their own personal use, however, and can still purchase e-cigs legally in other states.
- Queensland: Queensland makes things even more difficult for vapers. Under the1998 Tobacco and Other Smoking Products Act, e-cigarettes are categorized as tobacco products, so they cannot legally be either displayed or promoted in stores. However, they may be legally sold, but nicotine may not be legally imported into QLD, even for personal use. You may not use an e-cigarette that contains nicotine either. The only options available to Australian vapers in Queensland is nicotine free, or, keep smoking cigarettes, which may still be bought legally.
- New South Wales: Fortunately for its vaping residents, things are a little better in NSW. E-cigarettes in this state are not, as yet, categorized under existing tobacco control laws, and, as a result, remain a regular consumer product. It is still illegal to supply or sell nicotine e-liquids in NSW, as in the rest of Australia, and it is also illegal to use e-cigarettes that contain nicotine. For vapers who want to do so in public, the situation in NSW is hazy, as vaping is not categorized as smoking. As a result, whether Australia vapers can vape in public places or not is very much at the discretion of business owners and proprietors.
- Victoria: Similarly to NSW, e-cigarettes are not categorized under any current antismoking legislation. Vapers may use devices irrespective of whether or not they contain nicotine, as well as devices and non-nicotine liquids. Nicotine may also be imported to personal use. Victoria is definitely one of the best states for vaping in Australia.
- South Australia: In SA, e-cigarettes are not categorized as a tobacco product, so they may be legally sold on the proviso that they do not contain nicotine. E-cig may also be used without any legal hassle. In SA, you can legally own nicotine as long as it is not for retail or wholesale. Nicotine can be legally imported for personal use. SA is also pretty good for vaping in Australia.
- Northern Territory: E-cigarettes are not categorized as tobacco products in NT, and nicotine-free e-cigs may be legally sold. They may also be legally used irrespective of whether or not they contain nicotine. However, the question is: How do you get hold of nicotine, should you want it? It may be legally imported for personal use, but, you must apply for a permit in order to do so legally. Without the permit, you will be committing an offence by possessing nicotine.
- Australian Capital Territory: ACT is in general one of the most liberal of all states for vaping in Australia. E-cigs have no tricky legal status and can be sold sans nicotine and used legally. Public use is at the discretion of premise and business owners.
- Tasmania: Tasmania is also one of the more liberal states for vaping in Australia. E-cigarettes are still uncategorized here and although nicotine may not be legally sold, it may be imported for personal use-without a permit. Nicotine free e-cig devices may be sold and all devices can be legally used as well.