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Hunt dumps liquid nicotine importation ban

The federal government has dumped a plan to ban the importation of all liquid nicotine products and will instead make Australian vapers get a doctor’s prescription.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration announced its final decision on liquid nicotine rules on Monday, making a prescription compulsory from October 1.

It prompted Health Minister Greg Hunt to dump previously flagged changes to customs legislation that would have outlawed imported nicotine products, citing “significant overlap with the TGA decision”.

The amendment to vaporiser nicotine regulations was postponed in June after 28 backbench MPs wrote to Mr Hunt in opposition to the proposal.

Liberal Senator Hollie Hughes was among them and said the move would have effectively killed off vaping in Australia.

“At the end of the day, Minister Hunt has really listened to what the backbenchers have said,” she told AAP on Tuesday.

“There has been a very significant shift forward from totally banning vaping to a pathway to legalisation.”

Ms Hughes said vapers already technically required a certificate to access liquid nicotine, but it was almost impossible to get one due to the Australian Medical Association telling doctors not to prescribe them.

“That’s now a problem between the health department and the AMA to figure out how they are going to make that happen,” she said.

The sale of e-cigarettes containing nicotine is currently illegal across the country and it is illegal to possess them without a medical prescription, except in South Australia.

In a statement, Mr Hunt said the changes would help deter teenagers from taking up and getting hooked on nicotine.

The TGA earlier this year said there was no evidence that e-cigarettes were a safer way to quit smoking traditional cigarettes.

It said there was also limited evidence to show vaping helped smokers quit.

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