Legislative Council: Tuesday, February 07, 2023



In reply to the Hon. S.L. GAME ().2 November 2022).

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Attorney-General, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector): The Minister for Health and Wellbeing has advised:

South Australia has made significant progress in reducing smoking prevalence over many years. For example, daily smoking prevalence has decreased significantly from 21.4 per cent in 1998 to 9.8 per cent in 2021.

The increasing use of e-cigarettes (also known as 'vapes') nationally and internationally, particularly by children and young people, threatens to undo this success. It is important to note that the sale of these devices and liquids to minors in South Australia is prohibited under the Tobacco and E-cigarettes Products Act 1997.

International approaches to e-cigarette regulation vary and jurisdictions with fewer controls on these products have seen significant increases in their use by minors. For example, research indicates that approximately one-quarter of teenagers regularly use e-cigarettes in the United States and New Zealand, and while recent evidence indicates that Australia is experiencing increasing use of these products by minors, our regulations are in place based on the precautionary public health approach endorsed by all Australian jurisdictions.

E-cigarettes can be purchased by an adult in South Australia without a prescription.

However, if the e-cigarette contains nicotine, a medical prescription is required. This is a national decision that was made by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, commencing 1 October 2021.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration has stated that this arrangement aims to 'balance the need to prevent adolescents and young adults from taking-up nicotine vaping (and potentially smoking), while enabling current smokers to access these products for smoking cessation with appropriate medical advice.'

It is important to note that nicotine is a poisonous substance. Given its toxicity and potential for serious harms to human health, including death if ingested, nicotine vaping products are subject to medical controls.

Additionally, the long-term health risks of using nicotine vaping products are still unclear and evidence of their potential effectiveness for aiding quitting is currently mixed. To date, there have been no nicotine vaping products approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration for sale in Australia.

The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners has advised that nicotine vaping products are not first line treatment for quitting, and that there are a range of other quitting medications and nicotine replacement therapies which have had significantly more testing for safety, quality and efficacy.

This is a key reason why the South Australian government is not encouraging smokers to switch to vaping.

However, for a person who has tried to quit with these other aids but failed, a medical practitioner might recommend this option to a patient.