18 February 2021

NSW Health is warning anyone selling nicotine e-cigarettes, also known as ‘vapes’, they face fines of up to $1,100 per offence, after authorities seized $450,000 worth of illegal product last year.

The year-long blitz also saw eight retailers across Greater Sydney successfully prosecuted.

A/Director of Population Health Strategy and Performance Carolyn Murray said NSW Health inspectors continue to target stores, seizing more than 26,000 e-cigarettes and e-liquids either containing nicotine or labelled as such since January.

“Don’t be fooled by their aroma. E-cigarettes are particularly dangerous to young people as most contain nicotine which is highly addictive as well as other toxic chemicals,” Ms Murray said.

“In NSW, the sale of e-cigarettes that contain nicotine is illegal, as is the sale of any type of e-cigarette to children under 18 – regardless of whether they contain nicotine or not.”

Despite this ban, NSW Health has seen an increase in the number of new e-cigarette products that contain nicotine being sold – both disposable e-cigarettes, such as ‘Cuvies’ and ‘Stigs’, and pod devices, such as JUUL.

“Alarmingly, these items often look like innocuous household items such as lipsticks, highlighter pens, and even asthma puffers, making it easier for children and young people to use them in public.”

NSW Health inspectors routinely monitor and enforce compliance with the Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 1966 and the Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2008, including undertaking spot checks at retailers. They can then seize for destruction e-cigarettes or e-liquids that contain nicotine or which are labelled as containing nicotine.

Retailers can be prosecuted after having products seized and can be fined up to $1,100 per offence. NSW Health has undertaken 928 inspections of retail premises since liquid nicotine compliance activities commenced in late 2015. These inspections include covert visits as well as formal inspections.

NSW Health has increased the number of inspectors with powers to seize e-cigarettes. It has also written to retailers in NSW reminding them of their obligations under the law. Information is available in community languages at Important information for tobacco and e-cigarette retailers in NSW.

The NSW Government is committed to reducing the prevalence of smoking, including the use of e-cigarettes. In 2020-21, the NSW Ministry of Health and Cancer Institute NSW will invest $17.3 million on tobacco and e-cigarette control.

This includes public awareness and education campaigns, quit smoking support, compliance and enforcement of strong smoke-free and retailing laws, and targeted programs for vulnerable groups with high smoking rates.