Vaping in Australia
All age groups
- Those using e-cigarettes are three times more likely to smoke combustible tobacco than those who have not used e-cigarettes.15
- Former smokers who use e-cigarettes are more likely to relapse to current smokers.15
- Between 2016 and 2019, the proportion of people who had ever used e-cigarettes rose from 9% to 11%.16
- Of those who had tried e-cigarettes, 18% used them at least monthly compared to 10% in 2016, and 9% used them daily compared to 6% in 2016.16
- In 2019, 3% of current cigarette smokers also used e-cigarettes daily and 8% of current smokers used e-cigarettes at least monthly.16
Young people (18-24 years of age)
- Of those aged 18–24, nearly 2 in 3 (64%) current smokers and 1 in 5 (20%) non-smokers reported having tried e-cigarettes, compared to 49% and 13.6% in 2016.16
- Of young adults aged 18–24 who tried e-cigarettes, the majority (74%) said they did so out of curiosity.16
Adolescents (12-17 years of age)
- In Australia, around 14% of 12 to 17-year-olds have ever tried an e-cigarette, with around 32% of these students having used one in the past month.17
- Students who had vaped most commonly reported getting the last e-cigarette they had used from friends (63%), siblings (8%) or parents (7%). Around 12% of students reported buying an e-cigarette themselves.17
What are Australian health organisations saying?
Several key Australian health organisations, such as the Australian Medical Association (AMA), Cancer Council Australia and the Australian Council on Smoking and Health (ACOSH) have published positions on e-cigarettes, sharing the following messages:
- There is insufficient evidence to promote the use of e-cigarettes for smoking cessation.
- There is increasing evidence of health harms.
- E-cigarettes may normalise the act of smoking and attract young people.
- E-cigarettes should be more properly regulated.18
The legal status of vaping in Australia
From Friday 1 October 2021, all nicotine vaping products – including nicotine e-cigarettes, nicotine pods and liquid nicotine – can only be purchased with a doctor’s prescription. This includes both in Australia and from overseas.19 This can be done by:
- filling the prescription at a pharmacy (either a physical community pharmacy or an Australian online pharmacy)
- importing from overseas websites using the Personal Importation Scheme.
Nicotine vaping products can only be legally used by the person named on the prescription; they cannot be legally supplied to friends or family members in Australia or overseas.19 See here for further information.
Nicotine-free vaping devices and e-liquids can be legally sold and purchased in most states and territories through online retail stores and tobacco retail outlets.
As of September 2020, the laws in each state and territory are as follows:
|Sale||Advertising and promotion|
|VIC||Devices may be sold without nicotine||No promotion allowed for e-cigarettes. Internal display of vaping items also not allowed, with the exception of certain specialist retailers|
|NSW||Devices may be sold without nicotine||No promotion allowed for e-cigarettes. No advertising inside store or in public|
|QLD||Devices may be sold without nicotine||No promotion allowed for e-cigarettes. No advertising inside store or in public|
|WA||Devices cannot be sold, nicotine-free e-liquids can||No restrictions on promotional material|
|SA||Devices may be sold without nicotine||No promotion allowed for e-cigarettes. No advertising inside store or in public|
|NT||Devices may be sold without nicotine||No restrictions on promotional material|
|ACT||Devices may be sold without nicotine||No promotion allowed for e-cigarettes. No advertising inside store or in public|
|TAS||Devices may be sold without nicotine||No promotion allowed for e-cigarettes. No advertising inside store or in public|
- Cao DJ, Aldy K, Hsu S, McGetrick M, Verbeck G, De Silva I, et al. Review of Health Consequences of Electronic Cigarettes and the Outbreak of Electronic Cigarette, or Vaping, Product Use-Associated Lung Injury. Journal of Medical Toxicology. 2020;16(3):295-310.
- Pepper JK, MacMonegle AJ, Nonnemaker JM. Adolescents’ Use of Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced Device Types for Vaping. Nicotine & Tobacco Research. 2019;21(1):55-62.
- Yingst JM, Foulds J, Veldheer S, Hrabovsky S, Trushin N, Eissenberg TT, et al. Nicotine absorption during electronic cigarette use among regular users. PLOS ONE. 2019;14(7):e0220300.
- Therapeutic Goods Administration. About e-cigarettes [updated 17 March 2020; cited 2020 September 8].
- National Cancer Institute. Harms of Cigarette Smoking and Health Benefits of Quitting: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services [updated 19 December 2017; cited 2020 25 August].
- National Academies of Sciences E, Medicine, Health. Public Health Consequences of E-Cigarettes. In: Eaton DL, Kwan LY, Stratton K, editors. Public Health Consequences of E-Cigarettes. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2018.
- Glasser AM, Collins L, Pearson JL, Abudayyeh H, Niaura RS, Abrams DB, et al. Overview of Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems: A Systematic Review. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2017;52(2):e33-e66.
- St Helen G, Liakoni E, Nardone N, Addo N, Jacob P, 3rd, Benowitz NL. Comparison of Systemic Exposure to Toxic and/or Carcinogenic Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) during Vaping, Smoking, and Abstention. Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2020;13(2):153-62.
- Grando SA. Connections of nicotine to cancer. Nature Reviews Cancer. 2014;14(6):419-29.
- Pisinger C, Døssing M. A systematic review of health effects of electronic cigarettes. Preventive Medicine. 2014;69:248-60.
- Chivers E, Janka M, Franklin P, Mullins B, Larcombe A. Nicotine and other potentially harmful compounds in “nicotine-free” e-cigarette liquids in Australia. Med J Aust. 2019;210:127-8.
- Cox S, Leigh NJ, Vanderbush TS, Choo E, Goniewicz ML, Dawkins L. An exploration into “do-it-yourself” (DIY) e-liquid mixing: Users' motivations, practices and product laboratory analysis. Addictive Behaviors Reports. 2019;9:100151.
- Office on Smoking and Health. About Electronic Cigarettes (E-Cigarettes): The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; [updated 24 February 2020; cited 2020 31 August].
- CDC. Outbreak of Lung Injury Associated with the Use of e-cigarette, or vaping, products. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2020 [cited 2020 June].
- Banks E, Beckwith K, Joshy G. Summary report on use of e-cigarettes and relation to tobacco smoking uptake and cessation, relevant to the Australian context. National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health: Australian National University; 2020.
- Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. National Drug Strategy Household Survey 2019. Canberra: AIHW; 2020.
- Guerin N, White V. ASSAD 2017 Statistics & Trends: Australian Secondary Students’ Use of Tobacco, Alcohol, Over-the-counter Drugs, and Illicit Substances. Centre for Behavioural Research in Cancer: Cancer Council Victoria; 2018.
- Greenhalgh E, Jenkins S, Scollo MM. Key Australian and international position statements on e-cigarettes, health, and options for regulation: Cancer Council Victoria; 2020 [updated July 2020; cited 2020 August 2].
- Therapeutic Goods Administration. Nicotine vaping products: Information for consumers [updated 17 September 2021; cited 2021 28 September].
- Spindle TR, Hiler MM, Cooke ME, Eissenberg T, Kendler KS, Dick DM. Electronic cigarette use and uptake of cigarette smoking: A longitudinal examination of U.S. college students. Addict Behav. 2017;67:66-72.
- Chatterjee K, Alzghoul B, Innabi A, Meena N. Is vaping a gateway to smoking: a review of the longitudinal studies. International Journal of Adolescent Medicine and Health2018.
- National Academies of Sciences E, and Medicine,. Public health consequences of e-cigarettes. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2018.
- Soneji S, Barrington-Trimis JL, Wills TA, Leventhal AM, Unger JB, Gibson LA, et al. Association Between Initial Use of e-Cigarettes and Subsequent Cigarette Smoking Among Adolescents and Young Adults: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA pediatrics. 2017;171(8):788-97.
- Berry KM, Fetterman JL, Benjamin EJ, Bhatnagar A, Barrington-Trimis JL, Leventhal AM, et al. Association of Electronic Cigarette Use With Subsequent Initiation of Tobacco Cigarettes in US Youths. JAMA Network Open. 2019;2(2).
- Amin S, Dunn AG, Laranjo L. Exposure to e-cigarette information and advertising in social media and e-cigarette use in Australia: A mixed methods study. Drug and Alcohol Dependence. 2020;213:108112.
- Erku DA, Morphett K, Steadman KJ, Gartner CE. Policy Debates Regarding Nicotine Vaping Products in Australia: A Qualitative Analysis of Submissions to a Government Inquiry from Health and Medical Organisations. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2019;16(22):4555.
- Pepper JK, Ribisl KM, Brewer NT. Adolescents interest in trying flavoured e-cigarettes. Tobacco Control. 2016;25(Suppl 2):ii62.
- Vasiljevic M, Petrescu DC, Marteau TM. Impact of advertisements promoting candy-like flavoured e-cigarettes on appeal of tobacco smoking among children: an experimental study. Tobacco Control. 2016;25(e2):e107.
- Goldenson NI, Kirkpatrick MG, Barrington-Trimis JL, Pang RD, McBeth JF, Pentz MA, et al. Effects of sweet flavorings and nicotine on the appeal and sensory properties of e-cigarettes among young adult vapers: Application of a novel methodology. Drug and alcohol dependence. 2016;168:176-80.
- Cancer Council Australia. Parents right to worry about e-cigarettes and kids, says Cancer Council 2020 [cited 2020 19 February ].