Skip to main content

Electronic cigarettes

The widespread illegal sale of nicotine e-cigarette products across Australia is incredibly concerning, and requires urgent government action. 

NOTE: On 2 May 2023, the Federal Government announced its intention to introduce major changes to the way e-cigarettes are regulated in Australia. In particular, the Government intends to introduce new laws preventing the importation of all non-prescription e-cigarette products. 

The information below reflects the current laws as of February 2024. This page will be updated as soon as possible to reflect future amendments to legislation in line with the Government’s announcement, as those changes come into operation.

What are electronic cigarettes?

Electronic cigarettes (also known as ‘e-cigarettes’ or ‘vapes’) are battery operated devices that heat a liquid to produce an aerosol that users inhale. E-cigarettes are designed to deliver nicotine and/or other chemicals directly to the lungs. They do not generally contain tobacco, and products vary widely in their ingredients and design. 

Many e-cigarettes look like everyday items (such as pens and USB sticks), and are therefore very easy to conceal. 

You can find general information about e-cigarettes (including the risks of vaping) here.

More detailed information on the chemicals found in e-cigarette products is available on the Tobacco in Australia: Facts and Issues website.

Are e-cigarettes legal in Victoria?

E-cigarette products that contain nicotine can only be supplied by a registered pharmacist, and must only be supplied to a person with a valid prescription.

A medical practitioner or nurse practitioner can prescribe an e-cigarette product to help with quitting smoking, if considered clinically appropriate. However, e-cigarette products have not been assessed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (Australia’s medicines regulator) as being effective, safe or of high quality. The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) therefore recommends nicotine e-cigarette products only be considered when proven cessation supports have not been successful. In Western Australia, it is illegal to sell a vape to anyone (regardless of whether it contains nicotine), unless it is sold by a pharmacy and the purchaser has a valid prescription. However, in all other Australian states and territories, e-cigarettes that do not contain nicotine can currently be sold in retail stores (although it is illegal to sell an e-cigarette product to a person under the age of 18 years and stores must comply with point-of-sale advertising restrictions).

It is important to be aware that many e-cigarette products contain nicotine, even though there may be no mention of nicotine on the product label. The only way to tell for certain whether an e-cigarette product contains nicotine, is to test the product in a laboratory. As a result, large numbers of e-cigarette products containing nicotine are being illegally imported, stored in warehouses and sold in retail stores across Victoria (and Australia) without detection. 

On 1 January 2024, the Commonwealth Government introduced new laws banning the importation of all disposable single use e-cigarettes into Australia (regardless of whether they contain nicotine). 

Several other new laws are expected to come into force throughout 2024. These include: 

  • From 1 March 2024 - The importation of all non-prescription vaping products (including reusable products) is expected to be banned.  

  • Later in 2024 – New laws prohibiting the manufacture, sale and commercial possession of all non-prescription vaping products within Australia are expected to come into force. There is no proposed start date for these laws yet. More detailed information about the legal status of e-cigarettes across Australia is available on the Tobacco in Australia: Facts and Issues website.

What is Quit’s policy position on e-cigarettes?

The widespread illegal sale of nicotine e-cigarette products across Australia is incredibly concerning, and requires urgent coordinated action across all levels of government.  

In recent years, there has been an alarming increase in the number of children and young adults using e-cigarettes. This increase in e-cigarette use is particularly concerning given there is strong evidence that non-smokers who use e-cigarettes are three times as likely to go on to smoke tobacco cigarettes.1  The widespread availability of e-cigarette products threatens to undo decades of success in helping Victorians live tobacco-free lives. 

As noted above, the Federal Government has begun introducing major changes to the way e-cigarettes are regulated in Australia. These changes are expected to include banning the importation and sale of all non-prescription e-cigarettes (regardless of whether they contain nicotine). These new laws will help stop the widespread practice of using so-called ‘non-nicotine’ vaping products as a vehicle for concealing illegal products containing nicotine. 

Quit commends the Federal Government for its decisive action on this incredibly important public health issue. The Government’s world-leading new laws will help protect Australians from the health risks posed by vaping, while preserving access to prescription vaping products under health practitioner supervision.  

Quit calls on all state and territory governments to support the action taken by the Federal Government by helping to ensure the new laws are enforced efficiently and effectively throughout Australia.

1. Banks E, Yazidjoglou A, Brown S, Nguyen M, Martin M, Beckwith K, Daluwatta A, Campbell S, Joshy G. Electronic cigarettes and health outcomes: A systematic review of global evidence. Report for the Australian Department of Health. National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health. Canberra: April 2022. Available from: Download PDF 

Last updated February 2024

Back to top of page