Regulation can solve Australia’s broken vape laws

The Victorian Government is facing a renewed call to overhaul its vaping laws following news that 75 per cent of vapes are purchased through illegal channels.

In February this year, the Australian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS) recommended the Victorian Government introduce a retail licensing scheme, strengthen investigation and enforcement powers, and increase penalties to crack down on illicit tobacco and vaping products.

The Victorian Smoking and Health Survey released this week revealed that there are 300,000 vapers in the state and that three quarters of them are purchasing their vapes through illegal channels.

Theo Foukkare, CEO of AACS, said the Victorian Government’s failure to act on these recommendations, provided by AACS to the Commissioner for Better Regulation, has fuelled rapid growth in this rampant black market.

“Our members, a lot of which are small family-owned businesses, and other lawful retailers are suffering significant declines in consumer foot traffic and loss of incidental purchases as adult vapers are driven underground to buy illegal products from illicit suppliers.”

Research commissioned by AACS shows that more than 1.1 million adult Australians vape, with 88 per cent of all nicotine purchases made illegally through the black market without a prescription.

“Compounding the lack of retail licensing and enforcement, the prescription model for nicotine vaping products introduced by the previous Federal Government has driven a million adult consumers to purchase products illegally.

“Nobody knows what they’re actually buying. The illegal suppliers will sell to anybody, bypassing consumer taxes, electrical device and ingredient standards, and giving ready access to young people without any mandatory age identification.”

Foukkare said we must immediately move to a strictly regulated market for retail sales with product and packaging standards, licensing for retailers, and penalties for sales to people under 18.

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