Vaping – What does the law say?


By Calvin Gnech, Criminal Lawyer and Legal Practice Director at Gnech and Associates

04 October 2023

With the rates of smoking declining at a rapid rate, it may have come as a surprise to many when vaping took off in such a big way in Australia.  While it took some time for the Government to respond, Australia is currently moving toward a system where smoking reforms are not only inclusive of vapes (also known as e-cigarettes) but targeting vaping specifically.


New laws

New vaping laws came into effect on 1 September 2023. These laws have extended smoke and vape free zones to include outdoor markets, near outdoor eating and drinking venues, school carparks and all under 18s organised recreational events. This means it is an offence to vape in these locations, regardless of visible signage, and you can receive an on-the-spot fine of over $300.

You can also be fined for advertising vaping products on social media or elsewhere in any way.

Smoking a vape without a prescription is illegal in Queensland.


Importation outlawed

Earlier this year, the biggest planned smoking reform in a decade was announced by the Albanese Government when they outlawed the importation of non-prescription vaping products to Australia.

Whilst this is not yet written into the Therapeutic Goods Administration (‘TGA’) legislation, it is not far away and intends to give agencies more powers to control importation. Penalties for illegal importation or supply are up to five years imprisonment and/or up to a $1.25 million fine.

Combatting vaping

We are continuing to see authorities try to combat vaping, especially by minors. Since the announcement three months ago, vapes have continued to make headlines, including:

  1. 11 May 2023: Brisbane convenience store fined over $88,000 for illegally selling vaping products. Over 45,000 vapes.
  2. 11 July 2023: A company was fined $105,600 for unlawful advertising of nicotine vaping products.
  3. 13 August 2023: $10 million, 25-tonne seizure of illegal vapes in Perth. Believed to be the biggest bust of its kind in Australia.


Vapes, as opposed to cigarettes, seem to be being targeted predominantly due to their uptake by children.

Cigarette smoking in children has declined in recent years. Vaping on the other hand has seen a sharp increase in schools and amongst children. Vapes are often colourful and come In an array of sweet flavours. In comparison to cigarettes, vapes are practically marketed towards children. Moving forward, prescriptions for nicotine vaping products for smokers trying to quit tobacco will be made easier to obtain, however, they will only be available for purchase in pharmacies.

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