New regulations placing stronger controls on the importation, manufacture, and supply of vapes are being made in stages this year. A ban on the importation of disposable vapes has now been in force since 1 January meaning that patients cannot purchase any disposable vapes online from overseas.
From 1 March 2024 the importation of ALL vapes, irrespective of nicotine content or therapeutic claims, will be banned from sale. Vapes containing nicotine will be legal from a pharmacist with a prescription form a doctor or nurse practitioner.
Many patients may seek medical advice in the coming months on how to overcome their smoking and nicotine addictions. Unfortunately, MBS items supporting smoking and nicotine cessation counselling services have been discontinued, but these services can be provided through general time-tiered MBS items.
On a more positive note, the TGA has now implemented a new Special Access Scheme pathway to simplify prescription access to therapeutic vapes where clinically appropriate, with all doctors and nurse practitioners able to prescribe. The following resources may be helpful for ACCHO staff to feel more confident in advising clients:
- RACGP Provisional Guidance to smoking and vaping cessation related to changes in regulations
- The Department of Health and Aging’s advice for health professionals may assist when considering whether patients are eligible for subsidised NRTs under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
- Resources for health professionals available through the Quit Centre – www.quitcentre.org.au
- Patient support to quit smoking and/or vaping is available through Quitline services : Hotline on 13 QUIT (13 7848),or online at www.quit.org.au.
Now is the time to make sure ACCHO staff particularly your GP and Nurses understand the changes to accessing nicotine vapes. There is Information for Prescribers available on the TGA website and AH&MRC will keep communicating updates including access to resources as they become available.