How Old Do You Have to be to Vape in Australia?
It seems vaping culture is more complex than ever, more often than not appearing too daunting for newbies. With all the gear, product types and the library of e-liquids some may feel that it’s a difficult world to navigate. The jargon alone can appear to outsiders as its own language.
However, people in Australia have another obstacle to overcome. The rules and law surrounding anything vape-related can be puzzling at best. The heavy regulations that vary from state to state add an extra layer of ambiguity that can make it ever more challenging for the vaping community in Australia.
How Old Do You Have To Be?
The matter of age restrictions remains firmly planted at the top of Australia’s frequently asked vaping questions. Such a point of contention rides waves of queries through vaping forums and the online community. This is understandable considering its vitality in navigating the legal spectrum.
In order to do anything vape-related in Australia, you must be at least 18 years of age. If a person is caught breaching the terms of this age restriction, the authorities are well within their rights to seize their vape, plus any and all associated equipment.
A number of states also enforce additional ‘proximity’ restrictions, preventing the use of vapes when in the car with a person under the age of 16.
Australia’s E-liquid Ban
Even if you manage the logistical nightmare of obtaining vaping hardware, a whole new set of challenges awaits. E-liquid that contains nicotine can only be sold with the direct authorisation of Australia’s Ministry of Health - a feat that no brand has yet achieved.
Australia lists its medicines and poisons in the Poison Standard, which classifies all entries into categories called ‘Schedules’. The Schedule in which a substance is directed determines the parameters of its regulation.
Nicotine is identified under Schedule 7 'Dangerous Poisons'. With this classification, nicotine is illegal to buy, possess or distribute in almost all regards. The exceptions are nicotine in tobacco cigarettes and nicotine replacement therapies. Other ‘dangerous poisons’ in this Schedule include arsenic and strychnine.
Not all hope is lost however, as e-liquids that don’t contain nicotine are perfectly legal to buy, possess and consume.
Prescription for Nicotine
Vapers in Australia require a medical prescription from a doctor in order to legally import vaping products containing nicotine. More info here.
Australia’s Laws on Vaping
Akin to cigarettes, the use of vape devices is hugely restricted when it comes to public spaces. Anywhere that is considered a non-smoking area is also to be considered a non-vaping area. Some examples of these prohibited zones include:
- All indoor public places
- Within 10 metres of children's play equipment
- Public swimming pools
- Spectator areas at sports grounds or other recreational areas
- Public transport stops and platforms, including taxi-ranks
- Within 4 metres of a pedestrian access point to a public building
- Outdoor dining areas
These restrictions mean that vapers must find alternative safe zones to indulge legally.
Australia has severely limited the advertising permissions for both tobacco cigarettes and vaping products. It is banned for products and advertisements to be seen by the public, from inside or outside the premises of stores that sell e-cigarettes and vape products.
Businesses also cannot make claims to any therapeutic properties that vaping may have, with explicit instructions against stating ‘these products will help you quit or reduce smoking’.
This is part of the reason why there are so many misconceptions about vaping. The hindrance of broad marketing activity means that there is less awareness on some of the benefits vaping can deliver as a possible smoking cessation method.
Bans & Penalties
There are serious penalties for acquiring or possessing liquid nicotine unless it is prescribed by a doctor to quit or reduce tobacco smoking.
The Safe Legal Option For Now
Restrictions are in place to protect those below the legal age. The Australian government has wisely tried to prevent people under the age of 18 from accessing vaping products.
Despite all the restrictions and complicated regulations there are still options for adults. Safe, legal channels exist for you to import vaping supplies containing nicotine to help you quit smoking as long as you have a valid medical prescription.
But the rules keep changing. The Australian government announced a total ban on the import of nicotine products by consumers as of 1 July 2020, and then delayed this until 1 January 2021.
The proposed total ban will change the landscape again, and if it goes ahead, unfortunately the main losers will be Aussie vapers who are trying to kick the filthy tobacco smoking habit.