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How will Australia’s new sales regime work?

In less than two months, Australian consumers will be able to obtain medically licensed nicotine-containing e-cigarettes from community and online pharmacies – but there is still some mystery around how the new system will be implemented.

The Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association (ATHRA) confirmed that it is not known yet how many e-liquids the pharmacies will have in stock.

“The government’s idea is that pharmacies can compound liquid nicotine but not provide flavours, which would need to be purchased elsewhere,” said an ATHRA spokesperson.

And users will not be able to find e-liquids on the shelves as in some other countries. Instead, they will be held in the dispensary area, located behind the counter and inaccessible to the public.

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    The Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) also recently gave a green light to pharmacies, as exclusive retailers of prescribed e-cigarettes, to advertise e-cigarettes through certain media.

    According to the guidelines, individual pharmacies and pharma groups will be able to inform the public about locations where users can get the products, which ones are available, and the nicotine concentration.

    However, the new rules establish that pharmacies are not allowed to promote nicotine products using television, radio, cinema, websites or any other media that “they do not directly control”. This would seem to limit opportunities to point-of-sale material at the stores themselves, and direct communication to individual consumers.

    It is also not permitted to use brand ambassadors or influencers, sell through paid social media campaigns, mention trade names, or insert any picture of the product in the ads.

    The advertising of nicotine e-cigarettes is prohibited by law in Australia. But where the advertising of nicotine vaping products complies with the legal permission issued by the TGA under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1989, state and territory prohibitions will not apply.

    — Barnaby Page ECigIntelligence staff

    Barnaby Page

    Editorial director
    Before joining ECigIntelligence in early 2014 as one of its first employees, Barnaby had a 30-year career as a reporter and editor for newspapers, magazines and online services, working in Canada, the US and the Middle East as well as his current British location. He has edited publications covering fields including technology and the advertising industry, and was launch editor of the first large daily online news service in the British regional media. Barnaby also writes on classical music and film for a number of publications. Barnaby manages the editorial and reporting teams and works closely with the analyst teams, to ensure that all content meets high standards of quality and relevance. He also writes for the site occasionally, mostly on science-related issues, and is a member of the Association of British Science Writers.