This chapter introduces the historical framework in which alcohol and other drugs exist, and highlights characteristics of Australian drug consumption that are of specific interest to sociology. Many illicit drugs were once legal, such as heroin, which was prescribed in Australia as a cough suppressant until 1953, and many so-called ‘designer drugs’ initially escape the law because of their novel properties. The most widespread drug in Australia, and the one that causes the most health problems and premature deaths, is the legally sanctioned drug of alcohol. The other main licit drug in Australia is tobacco. Like alcohol, it is often distinguished from other drugs, which is linked to the legal status it holds. Electronic cigarettes are handheld devices that simulate the act of smoking tobacco by heating a liquid, usually containing nicotine, to create a vapour that is inhaled by the user.