'Prohibition doesn't work': Greens back in vape changes as pharmacies become gatekeeper

Tess Ikonomou
AAP
Vapes will have plain packaging and be sold in pharmacies with those under 18 needing prescriptions.
Vapes will have plain packaging and be sold in pharmacies with those under 18 needing prescriptions. Credit: AAP

Vapes being sold in pharmacies “strikes the right balance” to treat e-cigarettes as a health issue and not a criminal one, the Greens say.

Labor cut a deal with the minor party to scrap prescriptions for adults to secure support for vaping reforms to pass the Senate.

Vapes will only be sold through pharmacies, with people under 18 banned from buying them unless they have a prescription.

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Greens Leader Adam Bandt says his party watered down the rules because “prohibition doesn’t work”.

“History is replete with examples of politicians telling adults not to use certain drugs only to find that doesn’t actually fix the problem,” he told ABC’s RN on Tuesday.

“We think it really strikes the right balance and it’ll be a pretty good start.”

The Greens wanted to address the “real public health concern” among children, as flavoured vapes were being marketed to them, Mr Bandt said.

“We wanted to make sure that it was treated as a health issue and kept out of the criminal justice system, and so the changes that we’ve secured mean now ... adult vape users and children as well won’t be criminalised for their vape use,” he said.

The Pharmacy Guild of Australia wants prescriptions to remain in place, arguing pharmacists are healthcare professionals who dispense medication that has proven therapeutic benefit.

Vapes will be in plain packaging and a doctor’s prescription will be the only way someone under 18 can legally buy them.

Pharmacists will need to have a conversation with the customer, provide information on health harms and offer alternative ways to stop smoking.

People will need to confirm their identity but pharmacies will not record patients’ data and there will be limitations on the amount of nicotine in each vape.

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