Vapers and GPS on the Central Coast have been warned to prepare for changes to vaping laws from October 1.
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) is reminding GPs and residents of the changes, which will see nicotine vaping products, such as nicotine e-cigarettes, nicotine pods and liquid nicotine available only by prescription as a smoking cessation tool.
People will no longer be able to buy these products or import them from overseas websites without a valid prescription.
GPs can prescribe nicotine vaping products by becoming an Authorised Prescriber through the Special Access Scheme or providing a prescription for three months’ supply via the Personal Importation Scheme.
The RACGP has produced evidence-based guidance for health professionals to support smoking cessation.
The guidance covers the evidence on effectiveness of nicotine vaping products for supporting smoking cessation, their place in therapy and the practicalities of prescribing them.
In the absence of an evidence base for how to prescribe these products for therapeutic use, RACGP has advised GPs that it’s reasonable to opt not to prescribe nicotine vaping products as they not approved therapeutic products.
GPs have been advised that, if prescribing, they should: use the Authorised Prescriber or Special Access Scheme instead of the Personal Importation Scheme; avoid prescribing free-base nicotine at concentrations over 20mg/mL and limit the quantity of nicotine vaping products per prescription to a maximum of three months’ supply; avoid the use of flavours or limit these to just tobacco flavour; and provide follow up as well as behavioural support.
RACGP President, Dr Karen Price, encouraged all GPs to familiarise themselves with the changes.
“GPs have a lot on their plate right now but it’s important that they are aware of what these changes to vaping laws mean for them and their patients,” she said.
“Prescriptions for nicotine vaping products are not a first-line treatment for smoking cessation and should only be tried when other measures, such as nicotine replacement therapy with behavioural support, have failed.
“It will be the job of GPs in communities across Australia to apply discretion and judgment when considering the patient’s individual circumstances.
“Those who do have a prescription will be able to obtain nicotine vaping products by filling the prescription via a pharmacy.”
Price said a webinar organised by Quitline and accredited by the RACGP would be available to GPs on October 5.
“A prescription for these products should only be used as a last resort, vaping is not a risk-free, harmless version of smoking cigarettes,” she said.
“These are addictive and harmful products that can prove fatal if ingested in certain amounts.”
Price also urged people seeking access to nicotine vaping products to be patient and respectful of GPs and practice staff.
“I understand that these changes will take some people by surprise,” she said.
“Please don’t take your frustrations out on GPs, practice managers, nurses, receptionists or administrative workers.
“They are not the ones who made these rules and GPs will only be able to prescribe these products as a last line treatment for smoking cessation.”
Price said there was a range of quit smoking therapies available, which patients could discuss with their GP.
Media release, Sep 29
Royal Australian College of General Practitioners