Home » Death of the Vape: Rise of nicotine pouches after new vape ban

Death of the Vape: Rise of Nicotine Pouches after the new Vape Ban

Written by: Corben Thorsby, Law Graduate

The New Decision

You may have heard about the Australian Government’s recent decision to ban the sale of vapes. As of the 1st of July, vapes can only be purchased from a pharmacy, with a valid prescription. If you haven’t stumbled past a dodgy tobacconist before, vapes are typically colourful, fruity and filled with a questionable amount of metal. They also contain synthetic nicotine, hence the name ‘vaping’ instead of ‘smoking’.

This policy shift is aimed at reducing Australia’s nicotine addiction however, the real death of the vape is actually from a new, up-and-coming player in the game, nicotine pouches. These come with a whole new list of problems, from legal to health implications.

What is a Nicotine Pouch?

Firstly, for those who may not be completely in the loop with the illegal products that circulate Australia’s underground – a nicotine pouch is a small sachet containing synthetic nicotine, designed to be placed in-between the gum and lips. It gives the user a discreet and convenient nicotine high without the need to smoke or chew. This appears to be the reason for the drastic increase in demand for these products, as the ability to consume nicotine without smoking becomes more and more appealing, especially for younger consumers. Children can now be ingesting nicotine in front of you without you even realising. Gone are the days of masking cigarette smoke or hiding vape clouds from your parents. The icing on the cake – these are sold in small plastic tins that can easily fit in your pocket. It appears that 2024 is the year we reluctantly and begrudgingly welcome this newly packaged poison (yes, nicotine is a poison) onto Australia’s streets.

The Underlying Problem

We are facing multiple problems from this including mass marketing from social media platforms and the selling of unregulated ‘knock-off’ products. Similar to the dreaded vape, is that these products are advertised with tropical tastes and tantalising, theatrical packaging! The important distinction here, is that this packaging exists because these products are quietly being imported into the country by ‘underground’ distributors. So, once again, harmful and addictive products have been marketed to appeal to Australia’s youth.

Unfortunately, this comes with a lack of regulation, which also means the quality, ingredients and safety of these products remains up in the air, unlike their vapour-delivering counterparts. Aside from small issues such as, ‘will this cause permanent damage?’ and ‘why is my face tingling?’, the next pressing question is, ‘are they legal..?’

What happens if I buy them?

The short answer is, well, it depends. It depends on the quantity and location at which you buy them. We won’t be going over where you can buy them, for obvious reasons, but importing them could result in seizure and destruction by the Australian Border Force. This is because tobacco-free nicotine products are prescription only in Australia. Australia’s strict tobacco regulations make it illegal to supply or advertise anything in Australia which is not approved by the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods. This includes importing, even if it’s just for personal use. The only legal way to consume these pouches is through a Personal Importation Scheme with a valid prescription from your doctor.

Alternatively, if your local ‘backyard supplier’ offers you a tin of nicotine pouches, just know that it is resulting from unlawful importation and is subsequently illegal supply. It’s safe to say that colourful plastic container has not been tested for your safety nor does it comply with any regulations by the Australian Register Therapeutic Goods.

Our Key Takeaways from the New Regulation

Australia has some of the strictest tobacco regulations in the world, attempting to reduce the number of consumers and create general deterrence. However, since the rise of the infamous vape, nicotine has sunk its claws into a whole new generation. It’s no surprise that more products would make their way onto the market after such a drastic increase in demand. Nicotine pouches, after being around for two decades in Europe, have become increasingly popular due to social media exposure and have now made their way into Australia’s underground nicotine market. With the newest vape ban, in effect from the 1st of July 2024, this may only increase demand for these new pouches.

Editors Note: Suppling or advertising these products in Australia is illegal. It is illegal to import these products, even for personal use. If caught with these products, significant penalties may apply including fines and seizure of products.

Do you need assistance?

If you have questions or need compliance advice in regard to the Australian Register Therapeutic Goods, contact the team of legal professionals at Greenhalgh Pickard.

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