Sandra Sanders/Reuters
Vape pens are pictured on a counter at a vape store, in Melbourne.
Brisbane, Australia CNN  — 

Buying a vape just got harder in Australia with the introduction of some of the world’s toughest anti-vaping laws that limit the sale of vapes with nicotine to pharmacies.

From Monday, users will need to present a doctor’s prescription to a pharmacist to buy vapes, and the choice will be limited to three flavors: mint, menthol and tobacco.

Dozens of countries have banned disposable vapes, but with the ban on vape sales in shops, service stations and other small retailers, Australia has introduced “world leading” laws, according to the government.

Australian authorities say the move spells the end of colorful branding and fun flavors that authorities say was a ploy to get children hooked on nicotine.

“It’s not often that the parliament gets the opportunity to do something really meaningful and lasting for the health of young Australians,” said Health Minister Mark Butler, after the country’s parliament passed the laws.

However, under a political deal that was struck to secure the law’s approval, the restrictions will ease in October, when only minors under 18 will need a prescription.

Adults will be able to buy vapes in pharmacies, without a prescription – but the devices may be hard to find after some leading pharmacy chains declared they would refuse to stock them.

“Pharmacists are healthcare professionals and community pharmacies do not want to supply this potentially harmful, highly addictive product without a prescription,” said Anthony Tassone, the national vice president of the Pharmacy Guild of Australia, which represents over 5,900 community pharmacies nationwide.

Fears of a growing black market

Australia’s Greens Party had pushed for the amendments to allow adults to buy vapes without a prescription because they do not support prohibition or the criminalization of vaping.

“The prohibition of drugs has failed. The Greens are pleased that we have secured amendments to this legislation that will ensure that no person will be criminalised for personal possession of a vaping product,” Greens Senator Jordon Steele-John said in a statement.

It’s not a criminal offense to possess vapes for personal use, but the import and sale of commercial quantities of vapes will attract large fines.

Some fear the new laws will create a black market for vapes, much like one that exists for cigarettes in Australia, which imposes some of the highest tobacco taxes in the world.

A box of 20 cigarettes costs around 35 Australian dollars ($23) – considerably more than in the United States and the United Kingdom.

And the costs are expected to rise when the tobacco tax increases by another 5% in September.

Despite the rising cost of cigarettes, some fear that young vapers – having been locked out of the vape market – will turn to cigarettes to get their nicotine fix.

“The reality at the moment is that vapes are actually still cheaper, but with the change in legislation that uncertainty, may be making them think, ‘Well, I won’t be able to get it. Maybe I’ll move back to smoking, or maybe I’ll start smoking,’” Hester Wilson, an addiction expert at the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners told national broadcaster, the ABC.

Other countries are grappling with a rise in young people taking up vaping, but they’re adopting various approaches to the issue.

In June, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the first non-tobacco-flavored e-cigarette products, drawing harsh criticism from pediatricians and anti-tobacco groups.

The FDA also paired with the Justice Department to create a task force to identify and target illegal sales and distribution of e-cigarettes in the US.