by GRACE JOHNSON
More than 60 raids were conducted last week on retailers across the city of Sydney and south east Sydney in the government’s latest crackdown on vapes.
In a joint operation between January 29 and February 2, NSW Health inspectors and NSW Police officers seized 30,000 nicotine e-cigarettes, 118,000 cigarettes, 45kg of flavoured and loose-leaf tobacco and 284 containers of nicotine pouches worth with an estimated street value of over $1.1 million.
This brings the total estimated street value of seized illegal vaping and tobacco products across NSW since July 2020 to more than $31.6 million.
NSW Minister for Health Ryan Park said, “The NSW Government committed $6.8 million over three years in the budget to invest in a crackdown on the sale of illegal vapes and increase support for young people who are addicted to vaping. We are delivering on that commitment.”
“Vapes are not a safe alternative to smoking and we are doing everything we can to educate young people on the harms of vaping and to protect them from those same harms.”
The first stage of a national crackdown on vapes began January 1 with a ban on the importation of single-use vapes, meaning it will be illegal to buy disposable vapes from overseas, irrespective of their nicotine content or therapeutic claims.
Purchasing or importing nicotine vapes without a doctor’s prescription has actually been illegal since 2021, but vaping rates have continued to soar.
From March 1, the second stage will begin, which will make it much harder to access vapes at all.
Refillable non-therapeutic vapes will be banned, as well as personal purchase of therapeutic vapes from overseas.
We can also expect to see tougher rules around flavours, nicotine concentration levels and packaging.
Federal Minister for Health Mark Butler confirmed on Tuesday that “stronger controls on the importation, manufacture, supply and advertising of vapes will be progressively implemented over 2024.”
Vapes have become a major health concern as more and more teenagers turn to vaping. With worryingly attractive packaging and appealing flavours, most vapes contain high amounts of nicotine and chemicals associated with nail polish, weed killer and cleaning products.