Non-nicotine e-cigarette liquids in Australia

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What are e-cigarettes and vaping?

E-cigarettes are battery-powered devices that heat e-cigarette liquids to make an emission intended for inhalation. The emission consists of very fine particles (aerosols) that are inhaled by the user.

The use of e-cigarettes is often called vaping.

Our work on e-cigarette liquids

To date, there has been limited information about:

  • the chemicals in e-cigarette liquids sold in Australia
  • the chemicals in e-cigarette emissions
  • the health concerns of these chemicals

To address the lack of public information surrounding e-cigarettes, we have completed an investigation and published a report.

Read our summary of the key points from the report

Download the entire report [Word 397 KB]

Our report provides information about the identity and known hazards of chemicals available for vaping. However, there isn’t enough information available about the inhalation toxicity of these chemicals to conclusively assess their health risks.

Just prior to finalising the report (September 2019), we became aware of new information from the US about a possible link between e-cigarettes and severe lung disease, as well as reports of deaths linked to vaping. The Commonwealth Chief Medical Officer and State and Territory Chief Health Officers addressed these concerns in a statement entitled ‘E-cigarettes linked to severe lung illness’.

What chemicals are inhaled during vaping?

People who vape are exposed to:

  • chemicals intentionally included in e-cigarette liquids. Many of these are flavouring chemicals and it’s unknown if these chemicals are safe when inhaled
  • chemicals produced when e-cigarette liquid is heated. Many of these chemicals could be harmful to human health
  • chemicals present as contaminants in e-cigarette liquid. Some of these chemicals can also be harmful to human health

What about e-cigarettes that contain nicotine?

Some e-cigarette liquids sold in other countries contain nicotine, but they cannot legally be sold in Australia.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) regulates nicotine and products containing nicotine. Nicotine is currently classified as a dangerous poison under Schedule 7 of the Poisons Standard.

It has specific exemptions:

  • for certain nicotine replacement therapies
  • for tobacco prepared and packed for smoking
  • when labelled and packed for the treatment of animals

Drugs, poisons and controlled substances legislation in all states and territories prohibits the commercial supply of nicotine for use in e-cigarettes.

Rules on importing and manufacturing the chemicals in e-cigarette liquids

Chemicals used in e-cigarette liquids that do not contain nicotine (or are not marketed as having a therapeutic use, such as being an aid to smoking cessation) are regulated as industrial chemicals in Australia. The import or manufacture (introduction) of these chemicals is subject to the same requirements as any other industrial chemical.

Anyone who introduces an industrial chemical into Australia must register with us. If the Australian Inventory of Chemical Substances (the Inventory) lists a chemical used in an e-cigarette liquid, then we generally don't need to assess the chemical before it is introduced into Australia. However, if the chemical is not on the Inventory, or the Inventory lists it with specific conditions, we generally must assess it before it can be introduced.

Last update 8 October 2019