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Electronic cigarettes

Electronic cigarettes are also known as e-cigarettes, e-cigars, vape pens or personal vapourisers. They heat liquid, which usually contains nicotine, into a fine vapour for inhalation into the lungs. 

Products vary widely in design and operation, but typically consist of a battery, heating element, and a cartridge or refillable tank containing substances such as propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine, liquid nicotine and flavourings.

Read the safety concerns about electronic cigarettes.

Electronic cigarettes are smoking products

Under the Tobacco and Other Smoking Products Act 1998 (Tobacco Act), electronic cigarettes are smoking products and subject to the laws in place for tobacco cigarettes.

These devices cannot be:

  • used in existing no-smoking indoor and outdoor places
  • sold to children under 18 years of age
  • advertised, promoted or displayed at retail outlets
  • provided for sale in a vending machine.

More information about the restrictions and penalties for use.

Electronic cigarettes that contain liquid nicotine

Under Queensland’s Health (Drugs and Poisons) Regulation 1996 (HDPR), liquid nicotine is regulated on the basis that it is classified as a 'Dangerous Poison' under Schedule 7 of the federal ‘Poisons Standard’, which is published on the Therapeutic Goods Administration (‘TGA’) website. Accordingly, in Queensland, liquid nicotine is:

  • A 'S7 poison' and a 'regulated poison' under the HDPR;
  • Except when in preparations for human therapeutic use and provided as 'Prescription Only Medicine' as provided by Schedule 4 of the Poisons Standard. In that case liquid nicotine will be a ‘S4 restricted drug’ under the HDPR the use or supply of which is by or on the order of persons permitted under the HDPR to prescribe and is only available when supplied extemporaneously from a compounding pharmacist on prescription or through other TGA processes.

It is an offence for a person to manufacture, obtain, possess, prescribe, dispense, sell, advertise, use or destroy nicotine, unless the person is specifically authorised or holds an approval under the HDPR. A significant penalty applies.

As at 30 June 2018, no electronic cigarette products containing liquid nicotine have been approved as a therapeutic good by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) for sale in Australia. Persons seeking to access unapproved electronic cigarette products containing liquid nicotine for human therapeutic use may do so under the TGA’s Special Access Scheme, or the Personal Importation Scheme or Traveller’s Exemption. Under these schemes, the prescribing doctor would need to follow requirements prescribed by the TGA. Please contact the TGA for more information. The requirements applicable to a 'restricted drug' under the HDPR would also apply.

Electronic cigarettes containing liquid nicotine can be safely disposed of at a community pharmacy or a local public health unit.

To report illegal sale or possession of electronic cigarettes containing liquid nicotine, call 13 QGOV (13 74 68).

Last updated: 30 August 2018