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Your Complete Guide to Vaping in Australia

Like it or not, vaping is here to stay. Despite its popularity, though, the fact is that some of the world’s regulators are a bit less strongly in favor of vaping than others. That’s resulted in some situations around the world in which vaping is permitted but regulated extremely strictly. Among all of the nations that regulate vaping in unusual or restrictive ways, Australia certainly takes the cake. Are you an Australian smoker who wants to switch to vaping? You can do it, but you’re going to need to jump through some hoops first if you want to use vape juice with nicotine.

This is your complete guide to vaping in Australia.

Can’t I Just Get My Vaping Supplies from a Local Vape Shop?

If you’ve searched online, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that there are plenty of vape shops in Australia. When you enter an Australian vape shop for the first time as a new vaper, though, you’re liable to get an unpleasant surprise. That’s because Australia’s vaping regulations specify that traditional retailers are not allowed to sell e-liquid with nicotine. There are several things that you can buy locally. You can buy vaping devices, as well as vape tanks, pod systems and replacement coils. You can also buy bottled e-liquid and pre-filled pods as long as they contain no nicotine.

The problem, though, is that nicotine-free e-liquid isn’t actually what many new vapers want. Although many people do switch from smoking to vaping successfully without using nicotine, those people are in the minority because replacing the nicotine from cigarettes always makes it easier to stop smoking.

So, how do you vape in Australia if you want to use nicotine? Before we go into detail about that, let’s discuss how Australia’s vaping regulations actually work.

What Are Australia’s Vaping Regulations?

The Therapeutic Goods Administration is the agency in Australia responsible for controlling access to nicotine, and the TGA website provides the details of how Australia’s vaping regulations work. In short, the regulations specify that you must obtain a prescription from a doctor before you can buy e-liquid with nicotine.

That has been the rule in Australia for virtually as long as vaping has existed, but the nation became even stricter about enforcing the rule in October 2021. Prior to the introduction of the strengthened rules, many people simply imported their e-liquid from overseas sellers without first obtaining prescriptions. Since October, however, you can be certain that someone will actually be checking for a prescription when you buy e-liquid online. There is simply no way to avoid the prescription requirement if you want to buy nicotine e-liquid in Australia.

How Do I Buy Nicotine E-Liquid in Australia?

The process for buying nicotine e-liquid in Australia may not be easy, but it is at least fairly straightforward. As mentioned above, the first thing that you’ll need to do is obtain a prescription for nicotine e-liquid from a doctor. There’s a good chance that your regular doctor will be amenable to writing a prescription if you describe your previous attempts to stop smoking and make it clear that vaping represents your only realistic chance of quitting.

If your doctor doesn’t understand what vaping is or doesn’t feel comfortable writing a prescription, you should visit the website of the Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association. On the ATHRA website, you’ll find a list of doctors who have been briefed on the harm reduction aspect of vaping and are amenable to writing prescriptions if it’ll help their patients quit smoking. Your doctor may be even happier about writing the prescription if you’ll also commit yourself to reducing your overall nicotine intake over time.

After you’ve obtained a prescription, you’re free to buy e-liquid with nicotine from one of two sources.

  • You can import e-liquid from a seller outside Australia, and the fastest and most convenient option for that is to buy from a company in New Zealand such as Premium Vape Australia. The top vape shops in New Zealand know how Australia’s vaping regulations work. They have the logistics already in place for shipping to Australia, and they know how to comply with Australia’s vaping regulations. Most importantly, buying nicotine e-liquid in Australia from a New Zealand vape shop ensures that you’ll get your products quickly while enjoying the widest possible selection of e-liquid flavors. Shipping from New Zealand to Australia is very fast.
  • You can also find a local compounding pharmacy and ask the people there if they have the ability to produce e-liquid for you. A few Australian pharmacies do manufacture vape juice, and that’s an option that can potentially help you avoid waiting for overseas delivery. Buying e-liquid from a pharmacy, however, does have two drawbacks. The first downside of buying vape juice from a compounding pharmacy is that you’ll have very few flavors from which to choose. Some pharmacies may not offer any flavors at all. In addition, you can also expect to spend significantly more than you would have if you’d imported your e-liquid.

What Type of Vape Kit Should I Buy?

Most people find that switching from smoking to vaping is much easier with a high-nicotine e-liquid. That’s because you’ll feel a strong throat hit when vaping, and that’ll make vaping feel similar to smoking. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to choose a vaping device specifically designed for good performance with high-nicotine e-liquids. For that, you have two primary options.

  • You can buy a pod-based vaping device that uses pre-filled pods. If you go this route, you’ll probably need to buy your initial starter kit from an overseas seller. That’s because most of the popular pre-filled vaping devices do not have nicotine-free pods available, so there’s no legal way to sell the starter kits in Australia. Although importing your vape kit does mean that you’ll have to wait a couple of days before you can start vaping, the benefit is that pre-filled devices are the easiest and most convenient vaping products to use. All that you need to do is charge the device, insert the pod and start vaping. Pre-filled devices are ideal for most new vapers.
  • You can buy a refillable pod-based vaping device that uses bottled e-liquid. If you go this route, you can buy your vaping device from a local vape shop but will still need to import your e-liquid from an overseas seller. The benefit of using a refillable vaping device is that you can buy the hardware from a local vape shop – along with a bottle of nicotine-free e-liquid – and spend a few days getting used to vaping while you wait for your nicotine e-liquid to arrive from overseas. The downside, however, is that refillable devices are a bit more complicated for new vapers than pre-filled devices. You might be happier if you start with a pre-filled device and buy a refillable device later when you gain experience.