NSW Health has seized over $1 million in e-cigarettes and illegal liquids containing nicotine since January 2022.
The seizures made so far this year bring the total amount of illegal proceeds seized since July 1, 2020 to over $3 million.
Electronic cigarettes can contain harmful substances found in cleaning products, nail polish remover, weed killers and insect repellents. Many vapes contain nicotine, some in extremely high concentrations. Evidence suggests they can lead to lifelong nicotine addiction.
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said retailers were warned if they act illegally they will face the consequences.
“We crack down on the illegal sale of e-cigarettes and nicotine-based liquids and take a zero-tolerance approach to those who sell them,” Dr Chant said.
“NSW Health routinely raids retailers across the state to protect young people from these harmful devices. You will be caught, illegal items will be seized, and you could face prosecution, resulting in a fine or even a prison.”
“The harmful effects of vaping on young people cannot be underestimated. People think it is just flavored water, but in reality in many cases they are ingesting toxic chemicals that can cause life-threatening injuries.”
As of October 1, 2021, nicotine-containing products are only available to people over the age of 18 when prescribed by a doctor for the purpose of smoking cessation. These products are only available from an Australian pharmacy or via import into Australia with a valid prescription.
For all other retailers in NSW, the sale of e-cigarettes or e-liquids containing nicotine is illegal. This also includes online sales. The maximum penalty for selling them illegally is $1,650 per violation, six months in jail or both, under the Poisons and Therapeutic Products Act.
Merchants and individuals can also be prosecuted for selling electronic cigarette products to minors, with maximum penalties:
For individuals, up to $11,000 for a first offense and up to $55,000 for a second or subsequent offence;
For corporations, up to $55,000 for a first offense and up to $110,000 for a second or subsequent offense.
NSW Health is committed to reducing the prevalence of e-cigarettes and tobacco use, and in 2021-22 has invested $18.3 million in tobacco and e-cigarette control.
The raids escalate on the back of ‘Do you know what you’re vaping?’ information campaign which was launched in March 2022 by the NSW Government. The campaign raises awareness of the harmful chemicals found in vapes, including those found in cleaning products, nail polish removers, weed killers and insecticides.
To accompany the information campaign that appeared on buses as well as on online social networks, a vaping toolkit was launched. The toolkit includes fact sheets and other resources for young people aged 14-17, parents and guardians, teachers and schools, to educate about the harms of vaping.