Today’s revelations of Victoria’s rampant illegal black market for nicotine vaping products should be the urgent wakeup call for all Australian Governments to step in and push for a sweeping overhaul of failed laws.

The Victorian Smoking and Health Survey released this week shows there are more than 300,000 vapers in Victoria and indicates three-quarters of them are buying them from illegal channels.

Across Australia, research commissioned by the Australian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS) shows more than 1.1 million adult Australians vape, with 88 per cent of all nicotine e-cigarette purchases being made illegally through the black market without a prescription.

“In February of this year AACS recommended the Victorian Government urgently introduce a retail licensing scheme, strengthen investigation and enforcement powers, and increase criminal penalties to crack down on illicit tobacco and vaping products, that report is yet to be released by the Minister for Regulatory Reform, Danny Pearson” said AACS Chief Executive Officer Theo Foukkare.

“The Victorian Government’s failure to act on these recommendations provided by AACS to the Commissioner for Better Regulation has fueled rapid growth in this rampant black market.

“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.

“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.

“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.

“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.

AACS CEO Theo Foukkare is available for interview (0423 003 133)

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