• It is illegal to sell e-cigarettes, e-cigarette accessories, and tobacco products to anyone under 18 years old.
  • It is illegal for retailers (other than pharmacies) to sell e-cigarettes or e-liquids that contain nicotine, including online sales.
  • E-cigarettes that do not contain nicotine are legal in NSW. Adults can buy and use e-cigarettes that do not contain nicotine.
  • From 1 October 2021 e-cigarettes and e-liquids containing nicotine are a prescription only medicine.
  • It is illegal to display, advertise or promote e-cigarettes.
  • It is illegal to sell e-cigarettes that make a health claim, such as ‘this product helps smokers to quit’.
  • NSW Health inspectors visit tobacco and other retailers to check if products containing nicotine are illegally being sold. Action will be taken by NSW Health if businesses are found to be illegally selling products or any tobacco or e-cigarette product to minors.
  • NSW Health can prosecute retailers for selling products containing liquid nicotine illegally, and for selling e-cigarettes to people under 18 years of age.
  • The Smoke-free Environment Act 2000 and the Passenger Transport (General) Regulation 2017 prohibit the use of e-cigarettes in smoke-free areas. They can use e-cigarettes where smoking is not banned.
  • Under the NSW Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2008:
    • E-cigarette retailers must register their business details with NSW Health. This is a free online process and it should only take 15 minutes. Retailers who sell e-cigarettes and tobacco products must update their registration.
    • Retailers who only sell e-cigarettes and e-cigarette accessories are able to apply for an exemption, so that electronic cigarettes may be used within their store. There is an application process and additional conditions will apply. Retailers who also sell tobacco products or other products are not eligible to apply for an exemption.
  • From 1 October 2021, e-cigarettes and e-liquids containing nicotine are a prescription only medicine. This means pharmacists in community pharmacies can supply e-liquids and e-cigarettes (containing nicotine) to their customers (18 years and over) only if they have a valid prescription from a doctor. Pharmacies need to comply with all retailing requirements set out under the Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2008. For more information refer to the Information for pharmacists on nicotine vaping products.
Last updated: 30 September 2021

What are e-cigarettes?

Electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes are battery operated devices that heat a liquid to produce a vapour that users inhale.1 Electronic cigarettes are also called e-cigs or vapes.

Selling e-cigarettes and accessories in NSW

Illegal sale of e-cigarettes containing nicotine

NSW Health has seen an increase in the number of e-cigarettes containing nicotine, or labelled as containing nicotine, being illegally sold by retailers. NSW Health inspectors visit tobacco retailers and vaping stores to check if products containing liquid nicotine are being sold. NSW Health can prosecute retailers for selling e-cigarette and e-liquid products that contain nicotine. From 1 October 2021 penalties increased. The maximum penalty is $1,650 or 6 months prison, or both.

Information for tobacco and e-cigarette retailers in NSW is available in English, Arabic, Chinese (traditional and simplified), Hindi and Vietnamese.

Display

Retailers need to ensure that e-cigarettes and accessories cannot be seen by the public from inside or outside the premises. Ban on display of tobacco, smoking products and e-cigarettes in retail outlets provides more information about this.

Sales

  • In NSW, it is legal to sell e-cigarettes that do not contain nicotine to people over 18.
  • E-cigarettes and accessories can only be sold from a single point of sale in each retail outlet. For more information see Single point-of-sale.
  • E-cigarettes must not be sold from temporary and mobile premises such as a market stall or stand, a tent or a car, or from any mobile structure, vehicle or vessel.
  • It is also illegal to carry e-cigarettes in a public place for the purpose of selling the products to persons in that place.

Advertising and promotion

It is illegal to display e-cigarette advertisements. E-cigarette advertisement means writing or any still or moving picture, sign, symbol or other visual image or audible message that gives publicity to or is intended to promote the purchase of an e-cigarette product. It is also illegal to:

  • give out free samples of e-cigarettes
  • promote or publicise an e-cigarette product, trademark or brand name through a scholarship
  • include e-cigarettes in shopper loyalty programs
  • sell confectionery or toys that resemble e-cigarettes.

E-cigarettes must not make unapproved therapeutic claims

Under both NSW and national law, it is illegal to make therapeutic claims about goods if they are not registered with the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA). This means that it would be illegal to sell or supply e-cigarettes if a label, website, poster or website makes a claim like ‘this product will help you quit smoking’. Verbal statements by salespeople are also included.

The maximum penalty for these offences is up to five years imprisonment and/or fines of up to $440,000. For more information on therapeutic claims, please contact the TGA on 1800 020 653 or visit the TGA website

Enforcement of nicotine containing e-cigarettes

NSW Health continues to undertake compliance and enforcement action regarding the sale of e-cigarettes and e-liquids that contain liquid nicotine. NSW Health seizes products containing nicotine and undertakes prosecutions against retailers for the sale of e-liquids that contain nicotine.

What do e-cigarette retailers need to do?

E-cigarette retailers need to register their business details with NSW Health. This is a free online process through ServiceNSW and it should only take 15 minutes. Free help is available by calling the toll free Tobacco Information Line on 1800 357 412.

Retailers who only sell e-cigarettes and accessories are able to apply for an exemption, so that e-cigarettes may be used within their store. There is an application process and additional conditions will apply. Retailers who also sell tobacco products or other products are not eligible to apply for an exemption.

For more information, refer to tobacco retailing law.

Also see the letter to retailers September 2021

Information for Pharmacists - Nicotine Vaping Products

Current as at: Thursday 30 September 2021
Contact page owner: Centre for Population Health