Vaping problem in schools a result of catastrophic regulatory failure, say major retail representative groups

Representatives of thousands of small businesses say vaping black markets are thriving and the answer is to cut off supply to minors

Australian retailers are calling for an urgent overhaul of regulations on vaping products and an enforcement crackdown following reports of widespread use of vapes in Queensland schools.

In a joint statement, the leaders of the Australian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS), the Master Grocers Association (MGA), and the Australian Lottery and Newsagents Association (ALNA) said it was clear Commonwealth Government policy on vapes is misguided, poorly designed, and failing the community.

The retail associations, which represent thousands of small businesses around the country, say responsible retailers already play an important role in keeping tobacco away from minors and the same approach should be taken to vaping products.

AACS chief executive Theo Foukkare said: “Although we disagree with the current prescription model for vaping products we do not condone any retail outlets disregarding the law and selling nicotine vaping products to anybody, especially children.

“We would welcome a crackdown on those that are supplying vaping products to children, whether that’s online platforms like Facebook Marketplace or rogue bricks and mortar traders.

The retail associations noted an explosion of ‘pop up shops’ selling illicit tobacco across south east Queensland over the last 18 months and highlighted that the majority of them are selling nicotine vapes too. “These are clearly irresponsible retailers who should not be permitted to sell any tobacco of vaping products” said Foukkare
Cracking down on illicit pop ups is critical to fixing the problem and we look forward to the State Government’s promised action around tougher enforcement early this year.

One solution to both issues supported by the retailers is the introduction of a low-cost licensing scheme in Queensland which would ensure only responsible retailers are allowed to deal in tobacco products and would provide a mechanism to shut down and punish those operating outside the law.

“It is clear that not enough is being done to prevent unscrupulous store owners and dodgy online retailers from selling all kinds of vaping products containing mysterious cocktails of ingredients to teens.

“We are urging the federal government to consider an overhaul of vaping regulations as a matter of urgency, bringing us into line with the UK and New Zealand where adults – and only adults – can access vapes to help them quit smoking. But in the mean time urgent enforcement action is needed against those supplying vapes to children.”

Theo Foukkare (AACS) is available for interview: 0423 003 133
Jos De Bruin (MGA) is available for interview: 0418 312 723
Ben Kearney (ALNA) is available for interview: 0417 144 994

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