NSW government seizes $1m of illegal e-cigarette products in 19 weeks

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Cancer Council commends ‘zero tolerance’ for unlawful sales


Cancer Council NSW has commended the NSW Government’s “zero tolerance” of nicotine e-cigarette sales without a doctor’s prescription, following a major increase in the volume of illegal products seized in 2022 compared with the past two years.


Director of Cancer Prevention and Advocacy at Cancer Council NSW, Anita Dessaix, said the surge in illegal product seizures comes only six weeks after Australian National University (ANU) published a landmark study highlighting the extensive harms of e-cigarettes especially to young people.


“In the 18 months from July 2020 to the end of last year, $2 million worth of illegal nicotine e-cigarette products was seized – and the government has since seized half as much again in only 19 weeks this year,” Ms Dessaix said.


As it stands, the only legal way to access a vape containing nicotine is via a valid doctor’s prescription for those who feel it will aid their quit smoking journey. However, illegal seizure trends are growing exponentially,


“We see unlawful e-cigarette use everywhere we look, with young people the main users. Community concern among parents and teachers in particular is rising..


“The recently published ANU report showed that the majority of e-cigarette users are young, they are not using e-cigarettes to quit smoking, they are using e-cigarettes with, not instead of, tobacco and those who don’t smoke face a three-fold risk of smoking uptake.

“We congratulate the NSW Government for warning retailers selling e-cigarettes without a valid prescription that they could face fines and even jail for contributing to this crisis.


“For the sake of a profit, these merchants are addicting young people to nicotine, they are exposing young people to a three-fold risk of smoking uptake, and they are flouting federal and state laws designed to protect public health.


“NSW Government, and its Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant, have shown great leadership in highlighting the major harms of e-cigarettes and putting the merchants who are contributing to it on notice.”


“This is about ensuring that vaping doesn’t undo decades of public health efforts to prevent harm caused by tobacco products”.