Links between vape prescribers and sellers raise concerns

The service offers a Telehealth telephone consultation that is billed in bulk or, for $45, issues a prescription via an online form.

The email did not mention that vapes must be prescribed to quit smoking. However, the Smartstop website states that it “provides nicotine replacement therapy and education to move quickly [people] away from smoking.

“Only one in three people who have used e-cigarettes said they used them to help quit smoking, so most people use them recreationally.”

Federal Chief Health Officer Paul Kelly

Prescription Vape, an Australian pharmaceutical company, also offers prescriptions and vaping products.

A spokesperson for Prescription Vape said it only issued scripts to people who had failed with other smoking cessation methods.

Both services declined to provide details of their medical staff, but said they were licensed prescribers. Their physicians are not on the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s list of more than 700 authorized prescribers of nicotine vaping products, although listing is not mandatory.

The large pharmacy chain Chemist Warehouse directs customers wishing to buy vapes to the Instant Switch online service, whose prescribers are listed.

“We are very concerned that patients are being given prescriptions in this way,” said Dr Bruce Willett, vice-president of the Royal Australian College of GPs, urging people wishing to quit smoking to consult their GP.

The National Health and Medical Research Council released its latest report on e-cigarettes on Thursday, concluding that “vapor from e-cigarette devices may be harmful and there is limited evidence that e-cigarettes are effective in helping smokers to quit”.

Bonning said the association does not consider vaping a good cessation aid. The college of GPs sees vaping as a “second or third” option for people trying to quit smoking, Willett said.

Since January, NSW Health has seized more than $1 million worth of illegal e-cigarettes and liquids containing nicotine from convenience stores, gas stations and other unauthorized vendors.


Arash Taji, a pharmacist at Melbourne’s Amcal Pharmacy Prahran, which fulfills orders for Smartstop nationwide, said the illegal market was still significantly larger than the number of prescriptions dispensed.

“I fill out the scripts because we see it as a way to quit smoking,” he said.

Dr. Samuel Murray, chief executive of Quit Clinics, whose $85 consultation service for current smokers is listed on vaping websites despite not being affiliated with them, agreed that the illegal market, especially for teenagers, was a bigger problem. His average patient is in his early 40s.

He also found issues with doctors working for vaping providers, but noted that Australia was the only OECD country where nicotine vaping was regulated as a medicine rather than a consumer product and he thought his service was needed because there were not enough GPs prescribed.


The National Health and Medical Research Council said it was particularly concerned about rising vaping rates among young people who had never smoked before.

“Only one in three people who have used e-cigarettes said they used them to help quit smoking, so most people use them recreationally,” Chief Public Health Officer Paul Kelly said. .

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