More than $1 million worth of illegal e-cigarettes and liquids containing nicotine have been seized in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, this year.
NSW Health has seized more than $3 million of the banned products since July 2020.
Since October 2021, products containing nicotine are only available for people over the age of 18 when prescribed by a medical practitioner for smoking cessation purposes, from an Australian pharmacy or via importation into Australia with a valid prescription, according to 7News.
For all other retailers in NSW, the sale of e-cigarettes or e-liquids containing nicotine is illegal.
The curb on illegal nicotine sales extends to online shops with the maximum penalty of $1,650 per offense, six months in prison or both.
Selling to minors also comes with hefty fines. For individuals, up to $11,000 for a first offense and up to $55,000 for a second or subsequent offense; and for corporations, up to $55,000 for a first offense and up to $110,000 for a second or subsequent offense.
Chief Health Officer Kerry Chant said retailers were being put on notice if they were selling the contraband products. “We are cracking down on the illegal sale of nicotine e-cigarettes and liquids and taking a zero-tolerance approach to those who sell them,” she said.
“NSW Health regularly conducts raids on retailers across the state to protect young people from these harmful devices. You will be caught, illegal items will be seized, and you could face prosecution, resulting in being fined or even jailed.
“The harmful impacts of vaping on young people cannot be underestimated. People think they are simply flavored water, but in reality, in many cases, they are ingesting poisonous chemicals that can cause life-threatening injuries.”
The Alcohol and Drug Foundation says around 14 percent of 12-year-olds to 17-year-olds nationwide have tried an e-cigarette, with around 32 percent of these students having used one in the past month. Around 12 percent of students reported buying an e-cigarette themselves.