The Poisons Code lists nicotine (for human use when it is a Schedule 7 poison) as a substance that is not for general sale by retail.
This decision was made on the basis that nicotine for human use is a dangerous poison, and electronic cigarettes have not been assessed for safety, quality or efficacy.
Victorian legislation makes it an offence to manufacture, sell, supply, purchase or otherwise obtain, possess or use an electronic cigarette or cartridge containing nicotine.
The prohibition applies to electronic cigarettes obtained from anywhere in Australia or overseas, whether over the internet or by other means.
Electronic cigarettes containing nicotine are not classified as therapeutic goods
Some advocates within the media suggest that electronic cigarettes containing nicotine are therapeutic goods when used as an aid in withdrawal from smoking, and can therefore be legally imported for personal use. These suggestions are incorrect and misleading.
The Australian medicines regulator, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, does not support the use of electronic cigarettes and has not assessed any of these products as therapeutic goods.
Electronic cigarettes containing nicotine are not regulated as therapeutic goods in Australia and cannot be legally imported for personal use.
Some electronic cigarettes and cartridges may be advertised as ‘nicotine free’. Unless such products are tested and found to be nicotine free by accredited laboratories, suppliers and potential consumers cannot rely on such marketing claims.
Smoking cessation aids
Certain smoking cessation aids containing nicotine have been assessed as medicines for therapeutic use by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, and can be legally supplied and used in Australia. Products are available from supermarkets and pharmacies; they include lozenges, gums, transdermal patches, inhalers and tablets. The labels will include the AUST R number indicating that the products are listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods.
Smokers wishing to give up smoking are encouraged to seek the support of Quit Victoria by calling the Quitline on 13 7848 or checking the Quit website.
Victoria Police investigations
Victoria Police is responsible for investigating supply of electronic cigarettes to the public. The local police station should be contacted if electronic cigarettes are being offered for sale from retail outlets, irrespective of whether the sales are being promoted as nicotine free.
For further information on the regulation of electronic cigarettes containing nicotine in Victoria, please contact Drugs and Poisons Regulation.