The Australian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS) has applauded the South Australian Government’s crackdown on the sale of illicit nicotine vapes.

Under the plan, South Australian retailers licenced to sell tobacco and e-cigarette will face tougher penalties if they are caught selling illegal nicotine vapes, including fines of up to $10,000.

Unlicensed retailers caught selling illicit nicotine vaping products in SA will face fines of up to $20,000.

AACS CEO Theo Foukkare said the convenience industry welcomed the move.

“This is a tough move that will help to weed out the dodgy operators that give our industry a bad name,” he said.

Mr Foukkare said the South Australian crackdown – which will include a two-month enforcement blitz– is supported by AACS’ 7088 members.

“AACS has thousands of member stores that follow the law, and we support any move that will punish shop owners selling nicotine vapes to kids,” he said.

The South Australian Government said the crackdown is an interim measure, put in place while the Federal Government figures out how it will tackle the youth nicotine vaping crisis.

“The Federal Health Minister Mark Butler promised he would stop illicit nicotine vapes from getting into the country and into the hands of our kids on May 2,” Mr Foukkare said.

“That’s a big promise – a bold one that we desperately hope will work – and one that Aussie parents will rightly hold him to.”

However, Mr Foukkare said AACS members fear Mr Butler’s plan is doomed to fail following the statement from Australia’s Border Force Commissioner that the Federal Government’s plan to ban recreational vaping will not stop illegal vapes flooding in.

“Millions of illegal nicotine vapes – usually made in China with no safety standards or ingredient regulations – have been making it into Australia for years and continue to do so,” Mr Foukkare said.

“The sheer cost to the taxpayer of stopping and searching every air and sea freight container and individual traveller for these black-market vaping products is unfathomable.

Roy Morgan data shows 1.3 million Aussie adults are using nicotine vapes – with the vast majority buying them from the black market.

“AACS supports any measure that aims to tackle Australia’s out of control vaping black market, however we know prohibition will ultimately fail.

“The only way to fix this crisis long-term is to strictly regulate vaping products just like tobacco and alcohol –where they’re subject to rigorous laws around ingredients, labelling and packaging.”

Theo Foukkare is available for interview on 0423 003 133

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