The government has launched secret talks on introducing a strict near-complete ban on vaping in Australia but has hidden the new proposals from the public.
The Therapeutic Goods Administration – which oversees the approval of prescription drugs and medicines for the government – has revealed the secret plans in an official consultation paper.
It outlines four proposals including a widespread ban on all single-use vapes, fruit-flavoured vapes, personal importation of vaping products and all vaping ads.
Only therapeutic nicotine vapes on prescription, available through chemists, would be allowed under the reforms – and they will only be tobacco or mild mint-flavoured.
Prescription vape liquid will also be banned from using any ingredients outside a limited list of medically-approved chemicals under the proposed legislation.
All travellers to Australia will need to bring a prescription for their vape or a letter from their doctor, and be limited in how much vape they can bring into the country.
But the consultation paper and feedback form is hidden from public view and is not included in TGA’s list of other past and present consultation papers on its website.
The government has launched secret talks on introducing a strict near-complete ban on vaping in Australia but has hidden the new proposals from the public
The Therapeutic Goods Administration – which oversees the approval of prescription drugs and medicines – has revealed the secret plans in an official consultation paper (pictured)
It also does not show up in the website’s search facility and is only accessible to those with a direct link to the webpage and survey seeking feedback on the plans.
Debate on the ban has also been limited to just two weeks, with the consultation period beginning on September 7 and ending on September 21.
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By comparison, a previous TGA consultation paper on regulating the vaping industry ran from last November until January this year.
The proposed ban is still in the policy-making process and has yet to be finalised by the government or the TGA.
The government health department admitted the consultation was underway but defended it being hidden from the public as it was targeted at ‘specific stakeholders’.
A spokesman told Daily Mail Australia: ‘The vaping reform consultation currently being undertaken by the TGA is a targeted consultation directed at specific stakeholders with particular expertise to obtain specific information to inform the design of elements of the reform package.
‘It follows on from the extensive public consultation on vaping reform conducted by the TGA between November 2022 and January 2023.’
The consultation process comes as health minister Mark Butler revealed details of the government’s latest crackdown on vaping on Wednesday, which has less severe restrictions than those being proposed by the TGA.
‘The fight against Big Tobacco is not over,’ he told Seven’s Sunrise on Wednesday.
‘Vapes are the new frontier to stop a new generation of nicotine addicts being recruited by this industry.’
The changes announced by the Mr Butler do not go as far as those proposed in the secret TGA consultation paper.
But in the latest clampdown, vape and tobacco products will be stamped with updated graphic warnings and include health promotion inserts, while packet sizes and filter designs will become standardised.
The legislation will also take aim at vapes by limiting the use of appealing names that downplay a product’s potential harm and including vape products in advertising restrictions.
It will also attempt to improve transparency about product contents, advertising activities and sales volumes.
This move comes after the Labor government announced a ban on the importation of non-prescription and single-use vape products in May.
‘Big Tobacco has adapted and innovated and been quite cunning about ways in which they get around the plain packaging intent ,’ said Mr Butler.
Health minister Mark Butler (pictured) revealed details of the latest crackdown on vaping on Wednesday, which has less severe restrictions than those being proposed by the TGA
in the latest clampdown, vape and tobacco products will be stamped with updated graphic warnings and include health promotion inserts, with packet size and filter design standardised
‘They make their deadly product appeal to particularly younger Australians where smoking rates are actually climbing.’
‘Twelve years ago, we led the world with plain packaging reforms, which were fought very hard by the tobacco industry, but frankly, now we’re lagging behind.
‘We’re determined to fix that.’
Tobacco use kills about 50 Australians every day, or 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 per cent by 2025, five per cent or less by 2030 and 27 per cent or less for Indigenous communities.