Vaping Blitz Targets Illegal Sales in South Australia
The Malinauskas Labor Government in South Australia has launched an eight-week enforcement blitz aimed at curbing the illegal sale of nicotine vapes. This initiative coincides with the implementation of tough new licence conditions designed to combat the growing problem of vaping. SA Health compliance officers will begin visiting various businesses, including convenience stores, service stations, and barber shops, to ensure that licence holders are adhering to the new regulations.
Understanding the New Conditions
The initial phase of inspections will focus on ensuring that businesses fully comprehend the new licence conditions. This wave of inspections will also target products that are already known to contain nicotine. Subsequent inspections will aim to verify whether businesses possess the necessary evidence to confirm that their products are nicotine-free.
The new licence conditions are explicit in stating that selling nicotine e-cigarettes is illegal, and retailers are now required to provide proof that their vaping products do not contain nicotine. Additionally, retailers must furnish information about their e-cigarette suppliers, importers, or manufacturers, enabling the traceability of products.
Prior Enforcement Blitzes and Future Measures
Previous enforcement blitzes conducted over the past year have resulted in the seizure of approximately 15,000 illegal nicotine vapes. These seizures include products obtained from unlicensed premises. Furthermore, 17 fines have been issued, and three licences have been cancelled.
SA Health will be inspecting various sectors that are currently licensed, including businesses that have previously faced compliance action or received complaints.
Businesses found to be in violation of the new licence conditions may face warning notices, expiation notices, seizures of their products, or prosecution, depending on the individual circumstances.
Supporting Compliance with Information Packs
Information packs detailing the new conditions have been dispatched to approximately 1,800 current and former licence holders since the announcement of the new conditions on 8th June 2023.
To assist licence holders in complying with the new regulations, additional measures have been implemented. The TGA website provides information on products from other states that have been found to contain nicotine.
The new licence conditions represent a proactive effort to crack down on the sale of nicotine-containing vapes, as evidence suggests that these products are being sold in various businesses throughout South Australia.
The Interim Nature of the New Conditions
It is important to note that these new licence conditions are interim measures while the Federal Government finalizes plans to halt the importation of non-prescription e-cigarettes and ban vapes in retail settings. The banning of single-use disposable vapes has also been recently announced.
SA Health has observed a growing trend of non-compliance with the laws introduced in October 2021. These laws classify nicotine vaping products as prescription-only medicines and prohibit the sale of nicotine-containing e-cigarettes without a prescription.
Ensuring Nicotine-Free Vaping Products
Despite many vaping products not listing nicotine as an ingredient on the packaging, laboratory testing has confirmed the presence of nicotine in the majority of disposable vapes sold in Australia.
To guarantee that vaping products are nicotine-free, licence holders must adhere to the following requirements:
- Immediate Cessation: License holders must immediately cease selling, supplying, possessing, or storing nicotine vaping products.
- Proof of Nicotine-Free Products: License holders must obtain and maintain proof from suppliers that their non-nicotine vaping products are indeed nicotine-free.
- Laboratory Testing: In cases where a supplier cannot or will not provide written documentation confirming the absence of nicotine, license holders must arrange for laboratory testing.
- Maintaining Relevant Documentation: License holders must maintain relevant documentation of their suppliers, importers, or manufacturers to facilitate the traceability of their products.
- Training and Supervision: License holders are responsible for training their staff and providing adequate supervision regarding the requirements of the Tobacco and E-Cigarette Products Act (TEP Act), Controlled Substances Act 1984, and other relevant legislation.
- Visible Display of TEP Act Licence: License holders must prominently display their TEP Act licence, including the conditions, in a visible location on their premises.
Penalties for Breach of Licence Conditions
Any licensed retailer found to be in breach of the new licence conditions risks penalties of up to $10,000. Additionally, individuals or retailers found selling or supplying e-cigarette products or tobacco without a licence face penalties of up to $20,000.
For more detailed information, please visit the official South Australia Health website: www.sahealth.sa.gov.au/tobaccolaws.