From 1st October nicotine will be moved from a Schedule 7 to a Schedule 4 when used in preparations for oromucosal or transdermal administration for human therapeutic use as an aid in withdrawal from tobacco smoking. It is also listed in a Part 2 amendment of the Poisons Standard that requires any Schedule 4 nicotine preparation to be in a child resistant cap.
So, what does this mean? In regular speaking terms it means that all nicotine containing eliquid will require a prescription before you can import nicotine eliquid under the current personal importation scheme. It also means that all nicotine containing eliquid will need to have child resistant caps, much like the ones that are standard use in New Zealand.
Some excerpts from The Notice that are of particular interest are;
“My final decision is to make certain nicotine containing products, including e-cigarettes, only available with a prescription from an Australian medical practitioner. The basis on which I have made my final decision balances consumer demand for nicotine e-cigarettes to support smoking cessation and the public health need to reduce and prevent the initiation of nicotine addiction among non-smokers, in particular, in adolescents.
The reasons that follow focus on e-cigarettes containing nicotine (which will be referred to as 'nicotine e-cigarettes') due to the current evidence on the direct health harms associated with nicotine e-cigarette use, concurrent use of nicotine e-cigarettes with tobacco products, and the potential for nicotine e-cigarette use to lead to nicotine addiction and tobacco use, particularly among adolescents. In my view, the arguments on the harms of nicotine addiction are relevant to other novel nicotine delivery systems captured in my final decision, these include e-juice, heatnot-burn tobacco products, and nicotine in other electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS).”
“... it is my view that a consultation with a doctor will ensure:
- patients have the opportunity to discuss with their doctor whether approved pharmacotherapy interventions and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) products would be suitable. If approved pharmacotherapy interventions or NRT are not appropriate then the option to use nicotine e-cigarettes may be considered by the doctor;
- greater likelihood of using a quality nicotine e-cigarette product with reduced risk of injury from the provision of advice on appropriate use;
- close monitoring and management of long-term side effects and health complications from the use of nicotine e-cigarettes;
- greater chance of stopping smoking and relapse prevention through behavioural and advice based support.”
It is important to note that this leaves room for nicotine eliquid to be down scheduled to an over-the-counter pharmacy product in the future, however it is not part of this amendment.
The personal importation scheme remains as is, that is to say, illegal without prescription, though it is sparsely enforced. It is unclear whether customs enforcement will increase after October 1st, though it must be noted the proposed $200,000 fine for breaching the amendment has been removed.