Dodgy operators feel the pinch from Queensland’s tough tobacco laws

Minister for Health, Mental Health and Ambulance Services and Minister for Women The Honourable Shannon Fentiman
  • Tough laws introduced in 2023 to target illicit tobacco and vapes are already delivering positive public health results.
  • More than 15 million illicit cigarettes, 6 tonnes of loose tobacco and 148,000 vapes have been seized in 2023-24.
  • Health authorities have issued almost 500 infringement notices since the laws were introduced.
  • Illicit tobacco seizures represent almost $27 million in value.

The Miles Government’s crackdown on illegal tobacco and vaping products is making significant inroads in targeting those flouting their obligations.

Tough laws introduced in 2023 to arm Queensland Health with greater enforcement powers have already resulted in the department seizing almost 5 million illicit cigarettes, over 42,000 vapes and more than 2.1 tonnes of loose tobacco in 2023-24.

The seizures represent a value of more than $6.6 million and are in addition to the results from multi-agency operations involving Queensland Health.

These operations have netted 10.2 million illicit cigarettes, 106,000 vapes and more than four tonnes of loose tobacco at a value of $20.3 million.

The seizures coincided with a sharp increase in Queensland Health enforcement activities against retailers supplying illicit tobacco and vaping products.

Health authorities issued almost 500 infringement notices to retailers supplying illicit products since changes to smoking laws – including 140 in 2024 alone – drastically outstripping the 174 notices issued between 2019 and 2022.

The positive results coincided with Queensland Health seizing more than 1,670 bongs and 375 pipes in 2023-24.

Passed in May 2023, the stronger tobacco laws granted Queensland Health enhanced powers to target retailers possessing or supplying illicit tobacco.

This included setting prohibitive financial penalties for supplying and/or storing illicit tobacco.

The laws are part of the Miles Government’s multi-pronged approach to removing illicit tobacco and vaping products.

Back in October, the Miles Government adopted 14 recommendations following a parliamentary inquiry into vaping that included a combination of educational and enforcement activities, such as school-based initiatives to reduce the prevalence of youth vaping.

Quotes attributable to the Minister for Health, Mental Health and Ambulance Services Shannon Fentiman:

“The Miles Government’s decision to adopt a zero-tolerance approach to illicit tobacco is paying off.

“We’re seeing great results since introducing tough illicit tobacco laws last year, with more than 15 million illicit cigarettes, 6 tonnes of loose tobacco and 148,000 vapes seized across Queensland.

“We know these products are being targeted towards children, with bright colours and flavours like ice cream and blueberry, which is just despicable.

“Often those behind the importation and sales of these products are part of well-organised criminal gangs, and only with a combined effort between state and federal authorities will we continue to make a difference.

“The Miles Government will not rest in our fight again illicit tobacco and vapes and will continue to pursue those who choose to break the law and show complete disregard for the health of Queenslanders.”

/Public Release. View in full here.