New vaping regulations in Australia took effect on Monday, requiring e-cigarettes to be sold only in pharmacies and mandating that customers consult with a pharmacist before purchasing. The rules, enacted last week, also stipulate that individuals under 18 must obtain a prescription. The ruling Labor party had to revise its initial plan, which would have restricted sales to those with a medical prescription, due to opposition from Greens senators who argued it would limit access for smokers seeking to quit and overburden the healthcare system. However, a three-month delay in implementing the compromise means that adults over 18 will also need a prescription until October, when this requirement will be lifted.

Sydney resident Sarah Harris criticized the new regulations, stating, "I think it doesn't really make that much sense, especially if they're going to be changing it again in October." She believes the rules will drive people to seek out black market vapes or obtain them through friends or online.

The regulations target youth vaping, with data from last year showing that about 22% of Australians aged 18-24 had used e-cigarettes or vaping devices at least once. In addition to restricting sales to pharmacies, the laws also limit the nicotine concentration in vapes and restrict flavors to mint, menthol, or tobacco. Australia, known for its stringent anti-smoking laws and high tobacco taxes, had already banned most vape imports earlier this year, requiring importers to obtain licenses from the government drug control agency. Despite vapes being readily available in small stores and common in pubs and bars, the government claims its enforcement efforts have removed hundreds of thousands of illegal vapes from the streets. In April, Health Minister Mark Butler announced that border police had confiscated over 1.5 million illegal vapes.