The government has begun secret talks about introducing a strict, near-total vaping ban in Australia, but has kept the new proposals secret from the public.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration – which oversees the approval of prescription drugs and medicines for the government – revealed the secret plans in an official consultation paper.
It sets out four proposals, including a comprehensive ban on all disposable vapes, fruit-flavored vapes, personal importation of vaping products and all vaping advertising.
Under the reforms, only prescription therapeutic nicotine vapes available in pharmacies would be allowed – and these can only have tobacco or a mild mint flavor.
Under the proposed legislation, prescription e-cigarette liquids will also be banned from using ingredients that are not on a limited list of medically approved chemicals.
All travelers to Australia must bring a prescription for their e-cigarette prescription or a letter from their doctor and are only allowed to bring a limited amount of e-cigarettes into the country.
However, the consultation paper and feedback form are hidden from the public and are not included in the TGA’s list of other past and current consultation papers on its website.
The government has begun secret talks about introducing a strict, near-total vaping ban in Australia, but has kept the new proposals secret from the public
The Therapeutic Goods Administration – which oversees the approval of prescription drugs and medicines – revealed the secret plans in an official consultation paper (pictured)
It also does not appear in the site’s search function and is only accessible to those who have a direct link to the webpage and survey and want to get feedback on the plans.
Debate on the ban was also limited to just two weeks, with the consultation period starting on September 7th and ending on September 21st.
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In comparison, a previous TGA consultation paper on regulating the e-cigarette industry ran from last November to January this year.
The proposed ban is still in the political decision-making process and has yet to be finalized by the government or the TGA.
The state health department admitted the consultation was ongoing but defended that it remained hidden from the public because it was aimed at “specific interest groups”.
A spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia: “The consultation currently underway by the TGA on e-cigarette reform is a targeted consultation aimed at specific stakeholders with particular expertise to provide specific information to inform the design of elements of the reform package. “
“It is a continuation of the extensive public consultation on e-cigarette reform that the TGA undertook between November 2022 and January 2023.”
The consultation process comes as Health Minister Mark Butler on Wednesday announced details of the government’s latest crackdown on e-cigarettes, which has less stringent restrictions than those proposed by the TGA.
“The fight against Big Tobacco is not over yet,” he told Seven’s Sunrise on Wednesday.
“Vapes are the new frontier to prevent a new generation of nicotine addicts from being recruited into this industry.”
The changes announced by Mr Butler do not go as far as those proposed in the secret TGA consultation paper.
But under recent measures, e-cigarette and tobacco products will feature updated graphic warnings and health promotion inserts, while pack sizes and filter designs will be standardized.
The legislation also targets e-cigarettes by restricting the use of attractive names that downplay a product’s potential harm and including e-cigarette products in advertising restrictions.
In addition, attempts are being made to improve transparency about product content, advertising activities and sales volumes.
The move comes after the Labor government announced a ban on imports of over-the-counter and disposable vape products in May.
“Big Tobacco has adapted and innovated and been very adept at getting around the intent of plain packaging,” Mr. Butler said.
Health Minister Mark Butler (pictured) on Wednesday revealed details of the latest crackdown on e-cigarettes, which has less stringent restrictions than those proposed by the TGA
Under the latest measures, e-cigarette and tobacco products will be provided with updated graphic warnings and health promotion inserts, standardizing pack size and filter design
“They are making their deadly product particularly attractive to younger Australians, where smoking rates are actually rising.”
“Twelve years ago we were a world leader in plain packaging reform, which was fought hard by the tobacco industry, but now we are frankly lagging behind.”
“We are committed to fixing this.”
Tobacco use kills about 50 Australians every day, and about 20,000 every year.
The health minister’s bill is part of the federal government’s plan to reduce the national smoking rate to less than 10 percent by 2025, to five percent or less by 2030 and to 27 percent or less for indigenous communities.