Federal and State Health Ministers’ Working Group are meeting today to discuss a national crackdown on vaping must immediately start consultations with the retail industry if they are to be successful in tackling the rampant black market for e-cigarettes, the Australian Association of Convenience Stores said today.
Federal Health Minister Mark Butler will meet with his state counterparts today to discuss the Albanese Government’s plans for a ban on “recreational vaping” and restriction of sale to pharmacies only.
However, the absence of progress since Minister Butler’s initial announcement earlier this year shows there is a realisation that banning this product is far from straightforward. AACS has long maintained that the only practical solution to the vaping black market is strictly regulated retail sales to adults via responsible licensed retailers. AACS continues to work with all levels of government to support their efforts in eliminating youth access & supports strong enforcement to address black market supply.
“If this was practical, sensible policy, there would be measures in place and action could be taken by now to tackle the illegal vaping crisis,” AACS chief executive Theo Foukkare said.
“Instead, politicians are going to another meeting and it is obvious there is no clear plan or timings for action”.
“The Minister said earlier this week that he was working ‘furiously’ on the vaping plans with the states. But he also let slip that they’ve realised this is more complex than they thought. Mr Butler’s grand pronouncements are now being tested by reality.
“The Health Minister should be consulting with and listening to the people who have practical experience in dealing with the sale of regulated mass-market consumer products – and that is compliant retailers”.
“We fully expect there will be more tough talk after today’s meeting but until the ministers engage properly with the people who know how this works, we are not hopeful that anything will get done.”
There are at least 1.3 million adult vapers in Australia, almost entirely supplied by the black market. Vaping rates have tripled since the government outlawed retail availability of e-cigarettes in favour of forcing adults to obtain a prescription from a GP, and then buying nicotine products from pharmacies.
“This policy has been a complete failure and doubling down on it will not work,” Mr Foukkare said.
Theo Foukkare is available for interviews: 0423 003 133
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