Exclusive: Tens of thousands of illegal e-cigarette devices and liquids containing nicotine have been seized by state authorities – and many contain the substance at fatal levels.
Poisons information lines are receiving dozens of calls about nicotine poisoning related to vaping devices and last year a baby died after consuming liquid from an e-cigarette.
Consumption of the products is soaring, undermining gains in tobacco control.
Smoking cessation body QUIT yesterday said it was time for an import ban to be slapped on the products.
While it is legal to sell flavoured e-cigarette liquids that don’t contain nicotine, the sale of liquids or devices that contain nicotine is banned in all states.
Of a test of nearly 1000 samples of liquids used in e-cigarettes, 60 per cent were found to contain it.
Half of these “had a nicotine concentration of more than 2500mg/L, which may be fatal to children or adults”, NSW Health said of its test results.
Parents of teens say suppliers are advertising nicotine containing disposable e-cigarettes on social media and selling them out of car boots at railway stations or offering home delivery.
And a News Corp investigation has found tobacconists in Sydney and Logan, Queensland prepared to supply the devices to our reporters even though it is against the law.
When asked if he sold vape pens with nicotine, a worker at Tobacconist CTC in King St, Newtown unlocked a compartment under the desk and produced a variety of vape pens.
He went to the extent of showing two different brands, HQD and Puff, one of which clearly had a label which said “this product contains nicotine”.
Since 2015 NSW Health said it had seized over 26,000 bottle, pods and disposable e-cigarette devices containing nicotine or labelled as containing nicotine.
This includes 7000 new generation disposable e-cigarette products since January 2020.
Fourteen NSW retailers have been successfully prosecuted for the sale of e-cigarettes and e-liquids that contain nicotine.
Last year Miranda tobacconist Jin Long Wang was convicted and fined $1000 after pleading guilty to three counts of selling e-cigarettes to children under 18 and having tobacco products visible to the public.
The maximum available penalty for second or subsequent offences is $55,000.
“Absolutely not enough is being done in Australia to control this,” QUIT director Sarah White said.
“We really need to have (Health) Minister (Greg) Hunt move to put these devices on the import ban list because that will stop some of these really egregious online sellers.”
Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Acting President Associate Professor Ayman Shenouda said “if you choose to vape, you’re gambling with your health”.
“The existing research shows a range of concerning side effects, including nausea, insomnia, coughing and a dry, irritated mouth or throat,” he said.
Originally published as New crackdown on illegal NSW e-cigarette sales