A crackdown on illegal vapes in Western Australia has seen WA Health seize more than 15,000 disposable nicotine vapes from retailers, valued at more than $500,000, in just six weeks.
Targeted operations have been conducted on retailers across the State to help minimise the health risks to the community, including young people who are increasingly using e cigarettes.
Chemical tests on vapes thought to contain no nicotine, conducted by the ChemCentre in Bentley, have returned positive results for nicotine, a harmful and toxic drug, in two thirds of products tested.
Vapes imported from overseas are often labelled incorrectly and can contain nicotine, which is addictive and illegal, according to WA Health Chief Pharmacist Meeghan Clay.
In WA, it is illegal to sell e-cigarette devices and nicotine vaping products to anyone regardless of their age, unless they are prescribed by a doctor for smoking cessation purposes and obtained with a prescription from a pharmacy.
The Department of Health has ramped up surveillance on the illegal sale of e-cigarettes amid concerns about increasing use by young people and has put 3,000 retailers on notice, reminding them of the ongoing restrictions regarding the sale of e-cigarette devices and nicotine vaping products under WA’s Tobacco Products Control Act 2006, and Medicines and Poisons Act 2014.
Some of the hazardous substances found in e-cigarette liquids and in the aerosol produced by e-cigarettes are known to cause damage to human cells and DNA, and can cause cancer.
The maximum penalty for a breach of the relevant provisions of the Medicines and Poisons Act 2014 is $45,000, while possession of nicotine without a prescription can fetch penalties of up to $30,000.
Anyone who believes a retailer is selling illegal e-cigarettes or vapes is urged to ‘dob-in-a dealer’ by contacting Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000.
As stated by Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson:
“The sheer number of illegal vapes seized by WA Health in just a matter of weeks is alarming, especially given their appeal to young people.
“People are often wrongly under the impression the liquid in vapes is flavoured water, however, there are many harmful impacts of vaping – in many cases people are ingesting poisonous chemicals that can cause life-threatening illnesses.
“We now know that many of the vapes being sold in WA as nicotine free in fact contain the highly addictive substance.
“I call on retailers to do the right thing and stop selling these illegal products immediately.”