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TGA flags focus on illegal vapes


Jolyon Attwooll


27/07/2023 4:19:40 PM

Unlawful nicotine vaping products and medicinal cannabis advertising are priority areas for the medicine regulator for the next year.

Teenager vaping
Nicotine vapes have been illegal in Australia unless prescribed for smoking cessation since October 2021.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has confirmed cutting down on illegal vapes will be one of its major priorities in the coming 12 months.
 
Flagging its ‘Import, Advertising and Supply Compliance Priorities 2023–4’, the TGA said vapes, medicinal cannabis advertising and the wellness and beauty industries are at the top of its list.
 
‘A key priority for the TGA this year will be to detect, deter and disrupt the unlawful import, advertising and supply of nicotine vaping products,’ it stated this week.
 
‘Young Australians in particular are vulnerable to the risks associated with using nicotine vaping products.
 
‘The TGA will dedicate resources to help stamp out unsafe access to these products.’
 
The regulator has said it is working with state and territory authorities, as well as law enforcement agencies to ‘detect, disrupt and respond to unlawful import and supply’. It said it will also continue to target unlawful advertising, including on digital platforms.
 
Nicotine vapes have been illegal in Australia unless prescribed for smoking cessation since October 2021.
 
However, products have proliferated in Australia with limited measures in place to prevent the black market from flourishing.
 
Earlier this year, Federal Health and Aged Care Minister Mark Butler described the existing situation as ‘the biggest loophole in Australian history’, saying that vaping had become ‘the number one behavioural issue in high schools’.
 
In May he announced new measures including a ban on the retail of vapes outside of pharmacies, tighter regulations on packaging, and the end of single-use, disposable vapes.
 
It remains to be seen if the changes will have a significant impact on GPs. Under the RACGP’s smoking cessation guidelines vaping is suggested as a last-line treatment for those who have attempted all other ways to stop smoking.
 
Until now relatively few GPs have become authorised prescribers, and of those some have reported almost no demand from patients.
 
The TGA’s statement of intent on vaping has already been foreshadowed with a series of high-profile fines issued over the past few months, as previously reported by newsGP.
 
The TGA also said it will prioritise the disruption of medicinal cannabis, psilocybin and MDMA advertising to Australian consumers, saying it will use ‘education, intelligence, and compliance action where necessary’.
 
The TGA indicated other compliance activities will remain unaffected.
 
‘The identified priority areas are just that – priority areas,’ the regulator states on its website.
 
‘The TGA maintains a focus on all areas of compliance around therapeutic goods and manages many individual compliance cases and investigations outside of these priority areas.’
 
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