What are electronic 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
Restrictions on selling e-cigarettes in NSW
E-cigarettes must not contain nicotine
The sale of liquid nicotine, including in e-cigarettes, is illegal under NSW poisons legislation1 unless you have approval from the NSW Ministry of Health or the product is an approved therapeutic good. The NSW Ministry of Health has not issued any approvals for the sale of nicotine, and no e-cigarettes are registered on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods.
Anyone who sells e-cigarettes or e-liquids containing nicotine without approval from the NSW Ministry of Health may be prosecuted, with fines of up to $1100 for each offence. You are responsible for ensuring any products you sell or distribute comply with the law.
Information for tobacco and e-cigarette retailers in NSW is available in English, Arabic, Chinese (traditional and simplified), Hindi and Vietnamese.
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 page provides more information about this.
- 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.
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 sell e-cigarettes and tobacco products must have updated their registration by 1 October 2018
Retailers who only sell e-cigarettes and accessories are able to apply for an exemption, so that e-cigarettes may still 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.
- National Health and Medical Research Council, Electronic Cigarettes Australia