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Nicotine Prescriptions in Australia

Nicotine Prescription For Smoking Sessation Australia

Nicotine Prescriptions in Australia

Many smokers are switching to nicotine vaping products to quit smoking. Vaping nicotine is cheaper than smoking tobacco and is an effective way to protect your body from the toxins. While vaping is relatively less harmful than tobacco, it is not completely harmless. That’s why Australian authorities have made it mandatory for adults to provide a medical prescription before using nicotine vaping products — whether it is patches or liquid nicotine. 

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) implemented new laws for vaping in October 2021. According to these laws, consumers importing nicotine liquids, pods, and other products into Australia or buying it from a general store need a valid prescription by a certified medical practitioner. Nicotine e-cigarettes are often used as an alternative to smoking tobacco. People use it as a way to quit smoking. However, vaping nicotine may not be effective for every smoker. And it shouldn’t be used as an aid to smoking cessation. That being said, some general practitioners might find nicotine products reasonable for long-term smokers who have tried every medical therapy and medication to quit smoking but failed. In some cases, the GPs recommend vaping products to help you quit smoking.

Requirements for Nicotine Prescription Australia

The government has implemented restrictions on the supply and use of nicotine products in Australia from 1st October 2021. These restrictions are applicable to consumers buying nicotine from overseas retailers or local dispensaries. If the general practitioner believes that nicotine can be used as an aid to smoking cessation, they must provide a prescription in the following ways:

  • Authorized Prescriber Approval (APA)

  • Special Access Scheme

The patient can also import nicotine products overseas using the Personal Importation Scheme, although they need to present a valid prescription from an Australian registered doctor. You don’t need TGA approval to import nicotine for personal use. However, you can only import 3 months' supply at once. The decision of whether you need nicotine is up to the doctor. The doctors can’t write a nicotine prescription merely because you requested them. These laws clearly state that nicotine vaping is not allowed in Australia for recreational purposes. Likewise, it can’t be supplied to those under 18 years.

The pharmacy supplying nicotine e-cigarettes, pods, patches, gums, liquid, and other products must get registered with NSW Health. The TGA has set a few standards for nicotine e-liquid. Any nicotine product must meet the following conditions to comply with these quality and safety standards:

  • The e-liquid must not contain caffeine, THC, vitamins, and any element other than nicotine.

  • The maximum nicotine concentration in the product must not exceed 100mg/ml.

  • It must not have ethylene glycol, vitamin E acetate, and other harmful ingredients.

You must check the label of the product and go over the ingredients carefully before use. If you are importing nicotine e-liquid from overseas suppliers, tell them about the TGA’s quality standard so they can supply appropriate e-liquid.

Getting a Nicotine Prescription For Smoking Sessation

How Can You Get a Nicotine Prescription?

As mentioned before, you need to talk to a general practitioner to see if you are eligible for vaping nicotine. The doctor can only prescribe nicotine products if their use aligns with the therapeutic standard for medicine. There is a chance your GP may not prescribe nicotine because of the lack of knowledge about its legality status. If that’s the case, you can politely ask the healthcare specialist to visit the ATHRA website to collect detailed information about nicotine products. Some doctors may not prescribe nicotine simply because they are not allowed to. Your best bet is to consult another physician for a prescription. At ATHRA, you will find a list of certified medical practitioners who not only specialize in helping people quit smoking but are familiar with the uses of nicotine for smokers. You can consult any certified GP and ask them for a nicotine prescription. Note that this prescription will remain valid for the next 12 months only.

The number of GPs in Australia who are known to prescribe nicotine vaping products for smoking cessation is very limited. They are far and few between, but they are out there. But first things first. Schedule an appointment with your family doctor to get a valid prescription to get you liquid nicotine. There’s a chance that the GP you normally see may be able to assist you in obtaining your prescription. If not, schedule an appointment with a certified practitioner who specializes in aid for smoking cessation.

Before scheduling an appointment with a healthcare specialist, note that you may or may not be a good candidate for nicotine. The doctor might decline your request because of your medical history or current medication. There can be other reasons why they may not write you a nicotine prescription. However, if a doctor determines based on their assessment of your situation that you are a candidate for a nicotine replacement therapy program, there is a chance they will issue you with a valid medical prescription so that you can use a nicotine vaping product in your electronic cigarette.

What To Expect At Your Doctor Appointment

When scheduling an appointment with a GP, you can expect to be asked questions about your smoking habits. The doctor you see will assess your suitability for nicotine e-liquid. It is likely that you will be asked a variety of questions related to your smoking habits and your health. Be prepared to answer any questions that arise truthfully, as they will help the doctor properly assess your suitability for vaping nicotine.

If you have already tried other smoking cessation such as nicotine patches and gum, you may be a suitable candidate to try nicotine vaping with the right nicotine concentration. It’s worth noting that while vaping has helped many smokers in Australia and elsewhere in the world quit smoking, it does not work for everyone.

How Can You Get Nicotine e-liquid Legally?

Visit your GP and tell them how nicotine has helped you with smoking cessation. There is a good chance they will accept your prescription request if you have used nicotine gums and liquid before. The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has recognized nicotine as a safe and legal way to quit smoking, especially for people who can’t see any results from other smoking aids. The doctors are allowed to write a nicotine prescription for patients struggling with smoking. Once you get your prescription, here is how you can get nicotine e-liquid:

Import from Overseas Retailers

Vapers with a prescription are allowed to import nicotine (up to three months’ supply) from overseas nicotine suppliers under the Personal Importation Scheme. Note that you can import it only to quit smoking or prevent relapse. Vaping is restricted in Australia for recreational use. 

Most vapers import nicotine from New Zealand and China. Make sure you send your prescription letter to the supplier so that it can be returned with your order. 

Australian Pharmacies

The doctor must be an authorized prescriber to prescribe nicotine to patients. They must follow TGA’s nicotine quality standards. The good news is that many Australian chemist shops and pharmacy stores supply a wide range of nicotine products, including but not limited to pods, e-cigarettes, patches, and gums. Before you get a nicotine prescription, tell your doctor about the type of product, flavor, and concentration of nicotine you need. The pharmacy doesn’t usually have nicotine on its shelves when you place an order. They order it from wholesalers after checking your prescription. If you are buying from Australian pharmacies, make sure you check whether the doctor is an Authorized Prescriber.

Compounding Pharmacies

Last but not least, compounding pharmacies that are certified producers of nicotine can manufacture customized nicotine e-liquid. They prepare the formula for patients with a prescription issued by an authorized prescriber. Your doctor will need more detail about the flavors, PG: VG ratio, and nicotine concentration to prescribe customized nicotine. If you need a customized e-liquid, visit a compounding pharmacy and ask if they offer custom-made nicotine.

FAQs About Nicotine Vaping Products

Do you sell nicotine vaping products in-store?

It is currently illegal to sell unapproved nicotine vaping products in Australia. You need a registered medical practitioner to issue a valid medical prescription for nicotine vaping products for smoking cessation.

What are Nicotine E-cigarettes?

Nicotine e-cigarettes are a nicotine vaping product and smoking cessation device that allow you to use e-cigarettes as a way to quit smoking.

Can You Buy Nicotine Vaping Products Easily?

Nicotine products such as e-cigarettes are readily available at Australian pharmacies and supermarkets - whereas you need nicotine prescriptions from an Australian registered medical practitioner to use liquid nicotine in a nicotine vaping product.

Bottom Line

You might end up with a penalty of $222,000 for importing nicotine e-liquid without a valid prescription from an authorized prescriber. The illegal possession of nicotine can also lead to a 2-year jail sentence. So, visit a general practitioner, and tell them the benefits of nicotine e-liquid and how it can be beneficial for you. Once they have written a prescription, you can buy nicotine from a registered pharmacist.

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