Buying illegal vapes has never been easier.
According to Four Corners, the booming black market for vapes is “fuelled by rising demand and a failure to police the rules.”
The Chair of Cancer Council’s Tobacco Issues Committee, Libby Jardine said there was an “epidemic of e-cigarette use among young people”.
Four Corners found multiple illicit sales of vapes on social media with “hundreds of suppliers to choose from across Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok.” Many local convenience stores also sell vapes over and under the counter.
What is a Vape?
The National Health and Medical Research Council states that E-cigarettes are: “battery-operated devices that heat a liquid containing chemicals (called ‘e-liquid’) to produce an aerosol that users inhale (a process known as vaping).”
E-cigarettes are also called vapes and e-liquids.
Illegal vapes: Current legislation in force in NSW
In October last year, the Australian Government passed new laws governing access to vapes.
Now, you need a prescription to legally access nicotine containing e‑cigarette products.
Without a doctor’s prescription, importing, buying or attempting to obtain vapes are illegal under the following legislation:
- Importing e-cigarettes (Therapeutic Goods Act 1989 (Cth));
- Importing nicotine e-liquid (s50 Customs Act 1901 (Cth)) – maximum $222,000 fine;
- Attempt to obtain, or is in possession of nicotine vaping liquid (s16 Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 1966 (NSW)) – maximum penalty $2,200 or 6 months prison;
- Retail sale of nicotine e-cigarettes/e-liquid (s9 Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 1966 (NSW)) – maximum penalty $1,650 or 6 months prison
- Selling e-cigarettes to minors (s22 Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2008 (NSW))
Updated research on E-Cigarettes
Updated research from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) revealed concerning impacts of vapes.
On the 23rd of June 2022, NHMCR released updated research on E-Cigarettes. The latest advice states:
- “All e-cigarette users are exposed to chemicals and toxins that have the potential to cause harm. In addition to nicotine, more than 200 chemicals have been associated with e-liquids.
- E-cigarettes containing nicotine are addictive and people who have never smoked are more likely to take up tobacco smoking.
- E-cigarettes are not proven safe and effective smoking cessation aids. There are other proven safe and effective options to help smokers quit.”
Demands for action on illegal vapes
Many organisations support the evidence based concerns that the NHMCR raised.
Lung Foundation Australia called for the elimination of e-cigarettes.
The Lung Foundation is urging “each state and territory to ensure that enforcement bodies are coordinated and empowered to take appropriate action locally.”
Further, they advocate for “a launch of the National Tobacco Strategy with clear and strong action” to ban e-cigarettes.
The Cancer Council also pushes for intergovernmental action.
The Cancer Council list out their main calls for action as:
- “Urgent government action to ensure nicotine e-cigarettes are only accessed by people with a doctor’s prescription trying to quit smoking, as required by law.
- The federal government to do more to stop unlawful nicotine e-cigarette imports and the states and territories to shut down unlawful retail sales.
- All governments to abolish so-called non-nicotine e-cigarettes, which are harming children and hampering legal control of nicotine products.”