NSW Health Department finds not all e-juices are as nicotine free as they claim

The effectiveness of Australia’s vaping laws is being thrown into question with data showing illegal nicotine is making its way into retail stores.

Key points:

  • The sale of liquid nicotine in e-cigarettes is illegal across Australia
  • Over 40pc of 227 retailers visited by inspectors found to be selling products containing nicotine
  • Health experts say the lack of clarity around what people are buying needs to be resolved

Data from the New South Wales Department of Health suggests people could be unwittingly buying e-juice containing nicotine even though it is illegal to purchase it in Australia.

In testing conducted since 2015, the Department found that 63 per cent of e-juice labelled as nicotine-free actually contained nicotine.

What’s really in your vape?

Australia might be a world leader in tobacco control, but vaping is a blindspot. Retailers are selling illegal nicotine vaping products, and plenty aren’t even labelled.

The Department was unable to provide a breakdown of the concentrations of the unlabelled nicotine, but of the testing it conducted of all e-juice, around half contained between 3mg/ml and 20mg/ml — that is the level at which nicotine is typically inhaled.

While it is legal to buy liquid nicotine from overseas for personal use in all states except Queensland, the sale of liquid nicotine in e-cigarettes is illegal across Australia.

However, health data suggests NSW e-juice retailers have continued to stock nicotine liquid.

From November 2015 to April 2018 NSW health inspectors visited 227 retailers selling e-liquids.

Over 40 per cent of these retailers were found to be selling products that contained nicotine.

Of the other state health departments contacted, Western Australia’s agreed that e-juice labelling was an issue but could not provide any details.

“The Department of Health does test products where there is reason to believe that they may contain nicotine,” a WA spokesperson said.

“Through this process, it is clear that the labelling of e-liquids can be inaccurate and misleading.”

Health experts say the lack of clarity around what people are buying needs to be resolved.

Simon Chapman, emeritus professor of public health at Sydney University, said Australia was in a “complete no-mans land” when it came to e-cigarette regulation.

Professor Chapman, who has been at the forefront of tobacco control in Australia, said it was unlikely vendors were selling e-juice without knowing it contained nicotine.

“I don’t think you’d have to be particularly cynical to think that they would know exactly what they’re selling,” Professor Chapman said.

“It’s clearly not transparent information for consumers and it’s clearly selling a product which, at the moment, the way the law stands, it’s breaking the law.”

Read more at http://www.abc.net.au

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