Townsville Bulletin

Vaping laws won’t stop sales

Some tobacconis­ts vow to keep importing illegal goods

- SUZAN DELIBASIC AND MILES PROUST

TOBACCONIS­TS are vowing to dodge a crackdown on the importatio­n of illegal e-cigarettes, claiming they will still sell the black market goods.

It is illegal for anyone to sell or supply nicotine-containing e-cigarettes, but individual­s have been able to import up to three months’ supply for their personal use with a prescripti­on.

But the importatio­n of nicotine vapes from overseas websites, without a prescripti­on, hasn’t been strictly enforced until now.

From Friday, October 1, Australian Border Force will have the power to intercept packages of nicotine vapes, pods and liquid nicotine, with e-cigarettes now regarded as a Schedule 4 medicine.

Pharmacies will also for the first time stock prescripti­on-only nicotine vape products.

But despite the strict laws, several tobacconis­ts still vow “to import” the illegal goods.

A News Corp investigat­ion this week found retailers selling the black market goods with nicotine labels.

In one shop, a worker presented handwritte­n price lists of vaping products, with prices from $20 for 300 puffs.

“We will still be selling the products here, the new laws won’t affect us at all. We will still import the products,” the worker said.

A staff member from another tobacconis­t also said he thought the new law “wouldn’t have an impact” on sales. “We’ve got plenty of stock,” he said.

It comes as teens took to Tiktok to air their grievances about the incoming ban. One video captioned “three days until vapes are illegal in Australia” received more than 64,000 likes and thousands of comments. “Stocked up,” one person said. Others said they’d continue to buy from sellers who ignore the ban.

AMA president Dr Omar Khorshid said vaping was not the risk-free version of smoking.

“It is addictive, is associated with proven harms and we know that if nicotine gets into the hands of young children and is ingested, it is highly toxic and can be fatal in very small amounts,” he said.

A spokesman for Health Minister Greg Hunt said: “Our government is taking measures to protect children and others from unrestrict­ed access to vaping imports, which are already banned for sale in Australia without prescripti­on,” he said.

“Now, our kids and others who prey on them will no longer be able to import liquid tobacco as a hook for smokers without a prescripti­on for genuine cessation purposes.”

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