An eight-week enforcement blitz targeting the illegal sale of nicotine vapes has kicked off in South Australia this week.
This coincides with tough new licence conditions imposed by the Malinauskas Labor government to crack down on the vaping scourge.
SA Health compliance officers will be visiting businesses that sell vapes including convenience stores, service stations and barber shops to check that licence holders are meeting the new conditions.
The first wave of inspections will focus on ensuring that businesses understand the new conditions and will target any products already known to contain nicotine.
Follow-up inspections will target businesses to check they have the required evidence that their products don’t contain nicotine.
“The stringent new licence conditions make clear that selling nicotine e-cigarettes is already illegal and now require retailers to show proof that vaping products being sold are nicotine-free,” reads a statement. “Retailers also need to provide information about their e-cigarette suppliers, importers or manufacturers, that will enable products to be traced.”
Businesses found to be in breach of the new licence conditions may be subject to a warning, expiation notices, seizures of their products or prosecution, with the appropriate action based on individual circumstances.
Information packs outlining the new conditions have been sent to approximately 1800 current and former licence holders since the new conditions were announced on 8 June.
Other measures to support licence holders to comply with the new conditions include information on the TGA website that lists products in other states found to contain nicotine.
An interim measure
The new conditions are an interim measure, while the federal government works through its plans to stop the importation of non-prescription e-cigarettes and the banning of vapes in retail settings and single-use disposable vapes, announced recently.
To ensure vaping products are nicotine free, licence holders under the new South Australian licence conditions must:
- Immediately cease selling, supplying, possessing or storing nicotine vaping products.
- Obtain and maintain proof from suppliers that their non-nicotine vaping products are in fact nicotine-free.
- Arrange laboratory testing if their supplier cannot or will not provide written documentation confirming the vapes do not contain nicotine.
- Maintain relevant documentation of the supplier, importer or manufacturer that enables their products to be traced.
- Train staff and provide adequate supervision on requirements of the Tobacco and E-Cigarette Products Act (TEP Act), Controlled Substances Act 1984 and other relevant legislation.
- Display their TEP Act licence, including the conditions in a visible place on the premises.
Any licensed retailer found breaching the conditions risks penalties of up to $10,000.
Any person or retailer found selling or supplying e-cigarette products or tobacco without a licence faces penalties of up to $20,000.