NSW Health has seized more than $1 million worth of illegal e-cigarettes and liquids containing nicotine since January 2022.
The seizures so far this year bring the total amount of illegal product seized since 1 July 2020 to more than $3 million.
NSW Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant, said retailers were being put on notice, if they are acting illegally, they will face the consequences.
“We are cracking down on the illegal sale of nicotine e-cigarettes and liquids and taking a zero-tolerance approach to those who sell them,” Dr Chant said.
“NSW Health regularly conducts raids on 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 being fined or even jailed.”
“The harmful impacts of vaping on young people cannot be underestimated. People think they are simply flavoured water but in reality, in many cases they are ingesting poisonous chemicals that can cause life threatening injuries.”
Since 1 October 2021, products containing nicotine are only available for people over the age of 18 when prescribed by a medical practitioner for smoking cessation purposes. These products are only available from an Australian pharmacy or via importation 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 illegally selling them is $1,650 per offence, six-months in prison or both, under the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act.
Retailers and individuals can also be prosecuted for selling e-cigarette products to minors, with maximum penalties:
For individuals, up to $11,000 for a first offence, and up to $55,000 for a second or subsequent offence;
For corporations, up to $55,000 for a first offence, and up to $110,000 for a second or subsequent offence.
NSW Health is committed to reducing the prevalence of e-cigarette and tobacco use, and in 2021-22 has invested $18.3 million towards tobacco and e-cigarette control.
Raids are being stepped up on the back of the ‘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 remover, weed killer and insecticide.
To accompany the information campaign which appeared on buses as well as online social channels, a vaping toolkit was launched. The toolkit comprises factsheets and other resources for young people aged 14 to 17 years, parents and carers, teachers and schools, to educate about the harms of vaping.