Vaping in Australia

Vaping

Vaping takes over the world

Vaping is a modern alternative to smoking. The practice involves the inhalation of vapours produced by devices known as vaporizers or e-cigarettes. These devices heat up cannabis or nicotine liquids or oils contained in a special cartridge, until they produce vapours. These vapours are then inhaled by the consumer for pleasure or therapeutic benefits.

Vaping has gained global popularity over the last decade. According to the World Health Organization, the number of individuals who use vaporizers regularly has risen dramatically over the last seven years. In 2011, approximately seven million individuals worldwide used vaporizers. In 2018, however, 41 million users vaped regularly.

There has been a steady rise in the number of adults using vaporizers daily. Source

The global market for vaporizers is now over $19 billion, its biggest markets being the United States, the United Kingdom and France.



Are cannabis smoking and cannabis vaping similar?

Smoking and vaping are similar practices. They both involve applying hear to your choice substance in order to produce smoke/vapours for inhalation. Both methods fall under the ‘inhalation’ method of cannabis consumption.

Despite these similarities, the effects of cannabis differ when consumed via smoking than when consumed via vaping. A research project led by scientists at the John Hopkins Behavioural Pharmacology Research Unit in Baltimore corroborates these claims.

For the study, participants either smoked or vaped 0, 10 or 25 milligrams of marijuana. The results showed that participants who vaped marijuana experienced greater effects of the substance. As documented by the researchers, those who vaped experienced “significantly greater subjective drug effects, cognitive and psychomotor impairment, and higher blood THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) concentrations than the same doses of smoked cannabis”.



How much do vaporizers cost and where can they be bought?

Vaporizers can cost anywhere between hundreds to thousands of dollars. The cost of these devices are influenced by numerous factors, such as size, capacity, and the materials the vaporizer is made of.

Aside vaporizers, individuals will need to purchase E-Liquids and batteries, which cost anywhere from tens to hundreds of dollars.

Vaporisers can be purchased in online and brick-and-mortar stores.



What is the legal status of vaping in Australia

The legal status of vaping in Australia is complicated -- the laws differ on both federal and state levels. Nicotine is classified as a schedule 7 ‘dangerous poison’ under Australian Poison Regulations. Under federal law, the possession, purchase, and use of nicotine for vaping is illegal. Under exemptions made in the Therapeutic Goods Act (TGA), however, individuals who desire access to nicotine for vaping can obtain it with a doctor’s prescription.

There are three methods in which nicotine e-liquid can be acquired in Australia:

  • The smoker can import three months’ worth of personal supply of nicotine from overseas under the TGA’s Personal Importation Scheme.
  • An approved Australian pharmacy can prepare nicotine liquid for individual patients. This service is currently offered by Nicopharm.
  • With a nicotine-containing product approved by the TGA. Sadly, there are no nicotine-containing e-cigarettes approved by the TGA.
Various states and territories regulate the laws concerning the sale, age limits on purchase, display and promotion of vaping products, and use in public places. Take a closer look at the laws and penalties surrounding liquid nicotine here.



Final words: Do Australians vape frequently?

Despite the legal status vaping in Australia, 227,000 -- or 1.2% of the population aged 18 and above -- reported to vaping regularly in 2016 alone. According to the study, Australia remains “the only westernized democracy that prohibits the sale, and possession or use of non-therapeutic nicotine containing e-cigarettes”.

The United States has recorded 8 deaths in total over vaping-related lung illnesses. Given these fatalities, there is little doubt the Australian government will be swayed from its current stance on the legal status of vaping. Source

In recent times, there have been debates on the legal status of vaping. The Australian parliament holds unanimously that vaping should remain banned. With the ongoing controversy surrounding vape-related illnesses and diseases in the United States, there is heavy doubt the government will change its stance on vaping in the near future.