​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Nicotine vaping products

From October 2021 liquid nicotine has been available as a prescription only product for the purposes of smoking cessation.

To purchase nicotine vaping products, such as nicotine e-cigarettes, nicotine pods and liquid nicotine you need a valid prescription from a registered medical of nurse practitioner. These substances can only be supplied on prescription from a pharmacy. It is illegal for tobacconist, vape shop or convenience store retailers to supply these substances.    

Nicotine vaping products must not be supplied to persons aged under 18 years, or for recreational use. The NSW Health Vaping Too​​lkit​​​​​ provides resources and information for young people, parents and carers, and school staff on vaping harms, nicotine addiction and support to quit vaping.

Information on vaping can be found on the NSW Health website E-cig​​ar​ettes (vapes)​​​​​​. 

More research is needed to recognise nicotine vaping products as a safe and effective aid to smoking cessation or nicotine dependence. Long-term smokers who have tried to quit smoking with approved methods without success, and are still motivated to quit smoking, can discuss the use of nicotine vaping products with their healthcare practitioner. Some prescribers may in some cases find it reasonable to recommend use of nicotine vaping products.

From 1 January 2024 a comprehensive range of reforms to address vaping was introduced by the Australian Government. For the latest information see the TGA Vapin​g hub​​​​

​Information for p​​rescribers​

From October 2021, a prescription is required to supply nicotine e-cigarettes and other nicotine vaping products for any purpose.

Nicotine for human use is a Schedule 4 (prescri​ption only) medicine except when in:

  • tobacco for smoking, and
  • registered medicines used as nicotine replacement therapy such as patches, gums, lozenges, mouth sprays.
​​​Nicotine vaping products have not been evaluated by the TGA for quality, safety, efficacy, or performance and are hence 'unregistered' or 'unapproved' substances in Australia. Where a prescriber considers nicotine vaping products a clinically appropriate aid to smoking cessation or nicotine dependence, a valid prescription can be provided. The prescriber must have either:
  • ​Authorised Prescriber (AP) approval or
  • Special Access Scheme (SAS) Category B or C approval for individual patients.
​​​​See TGA Prescribe an unapproved therapeutic good (health practitioners)​​

Information on smoking cessation can be found in the RACGP guidelines .

As with all scheduled medicines, the choice of whether to prescribe is up to the prescriber. Scheduled medicines must not be prescribed merely because a patient requests them, nor in a quantity, or for a purpose, which does not accord with the recognised therapeutic standard for the medicine.

Information for pharmacists

From October 2021, all nicotine vaping products, such as nicotine e-cigarettes, nicotine pods and liquid nicotine, are Schedule 4 (prescription only) medicines.

To supply nicotine vaping products a pharmacy must be registered with NSW Health as a tobacco/e-cigarette retailer. Registration and provision of a Retailer Identification Number (RIN) is through the Service NSW​ website .

To supply nicotine vaping products a prescription valid in NSW is required. The prescription must be written by an Australian registered medical or nurse practitioner who has an approval for the medicine under the TGA Authorised Prescriber (AP) or a Special Access Scheme (SAS) scheme. For more information see TGA Pre​​​scribe an unapproved therapeutic good (health practitioners)

Nicotine vaping products and associated devices and accessories must not be visible to the public from inside or outside the premises and can be sold from only one point of sale (cash register). They cannot be included in any shopper loyalty program.

From 1 January 2024, the importation of all disposable vapes is banned. Disposable vapes that were imported prior to this date may continue to be lawfully supplied in pharmacy settings to a patient with a prescription. 

For further information see ​Reforms to the regulation of vapes and Vapes: information for pharmacists​​.

Sourcing nicotine vaping products​​

Pharmacies may obtain unapproved nicotine vaping products prior to receiving a prescription, only for the purpose of dispensing genuinely anticipated prescriptions issued by a prescriber with approval under the TGA Authorised Prescriber or Special Access Scheme.

Unapproved nicotine vaping products must comply with Therapeutic Goo​​ds Order no. 110​ and may be sourced:

  • from Australian sponsors holding an Australian licence to supply them by wholesale, and/or licensed pharmaceutical wholesalers, or
  • directly from overseas suppliers. In this case you are likely to be considered the Australian sponsor of these products and you must meet the import requirements and compliance responsibilities. For more information refer to the TGA website on Vapes: information for pharmacists​.

The pharmacy must provide its tobacco product Retailer Identification Number (RIN) to the wholesaler when requesting supply of any vaping product or accessory.

As with all Schedule 4 medicines, nicotine vaping products:

  • must only be supplied in a quantity and for a purpose that accord with the recognised therapeutic standard of what is appropriate in the circumstances
  • cannot be advertised to the public, except a simple notice compliant with specified rules, advising that the pharmacy can supply these prescription-only products. See rules Advertising nicotine vaping pr​oducts​
  • must be labelled as a dispensed medicine, in accordance with Appendix A​ of the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Regulation 2008 (the Regulation)
  • must be stored in a room or enclosure to which the public does not have access, and apart from food
  • must not be used or disposed of in any place or in any manner likely to constitute a risk to the public
  • a record of supply must be kept in accordance with the regulation.

Nicotine vaping products must be supplied in containers with a Child Resistant Closure conforming to the Poisons Standard (the SUSMP) and the Regulation.

A compounded medicine can be prepared only in circumstances where a similar commercially available finished product medicine is unavailable, or clinically unsuitable for that patient.

A nicotine product may be extemporaneously compounded only in accordance with a prescription issued for an individual patient with a TGA approval under the Authorised Prescriber or Special Access Scheme.

Compounding must be conducted in accordance with the Pharmacy Board of Australia Guidelines on compounding of medicine​s.

The pharmacist must also ensure the compounded product is compliant with the Commonwealth's Therapeutic Goods Order 110 (TGO 110). See the TGA website​ for further information.

Information for wholesalers

Wholesalers of nicotine vaping products must hold a licence to supply b​​y wholesale, a restricted substance for therapeutic use. See Licences and authori​sation​s​.

The wholesaler must obtain the pharmacy's Retailer Identification Number (RIN) before supplying any vaping product or accessory.

Current as at: Wednesday 5 April 2023
Contact page owner: Pharmaceutical Services