Heat turned up on illegal tobacco

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Lechelle Earl, owner/editor

Heat turned up on illegal tobacco

The State Government is further cracking down on the sale of illegal tobacco and vaping products in South Australia, with a significant funding boost to shake up enforcement against this criminal activity.

The government is investing more than $16m over the next four years in the 2024-25 Budget to stifle this growing illegal trade with licensing and enforcement to be driven by officers in Consumer and Business Services (CBS).

Staffing will be expanded within CBS to get more inspectors out enforcing compliance with licensing and sale of tobacco and vaping products regulations in South Australia.

From July 1, CBS will take on the licensing functions currently undertaken through SA Health, with responsibility for assessing new licence applications, ensuring existing licensees are complying with the law and investigating any reports of illegal sales.

CBS will assume responsibility for licensing of tobacco and vapes, and enforcement relating to their sale and supply, with approximately 20 additional full-time equivalent employees recruited to cover everything from licence applications, to responding to consumers and inspecting premises.

SA Health will retain both its role in formulating policy in relation to vaping and tobacco, as well as enforcement functions relating to the use of cigarettes and vapes – such as smoking and vaping in public places.

The tougher compliance approach is necessary to tackle the criminal activities that are occurring.

It is more closely aligned with the current compliance work of CBS, and helps prepare for new federal vaping laws later this year.

It comes as the State Government launches a new hard-hitting media advertising campaign showcasing the voices of young people who have had first-hand experience with the harmful effects of vaping.

The campaign, launched last week by SA Health’s new preventive health agency Preventive Health SA, will run across radio, outdoor and digital platforms in South Australia.

The ‘Every vape is a hit to your health’ campaign, designed by the Cancer Institute NSW, is targeted specifically at 15 to 25-year-olds who currently vape and those who might be at risk of future uptake.

The campaign will run over five weeks and includes powerful testimonials from ex-vapers who share their real stories around vaping and quitting.

Vapes contain hundreds of harmful chemicals, heavy metals and toxins such as formaldehyde, arsenic and lead.

These ingredients can cause cancer, heart disease and lung damage.

The majority of e-cigarettes contain nicotine, with known harms of vaping including nicotine addiction, breathlessness, and symptoms of nicotine poisoning such as vomiting, nausea and diarrhoea.

According to the 2022-2023 Australian secondary students’ alcohol and drug survey, more than a quarter of students in South Australia had used e-cigarettes, an increase from 8.9% in 2017.

The new ad campaign aims to connect young people to more information about vaping and quit support including digital apps, Quitline telephone support, talking to their GP, and behavioural quit strategies.

It’s the latest in a series of tobacco and vaping social marketing campaigns and part of the State Government’s comprehensive strategy to address the increasing use of e-cigarettes and to stamp out smoking and vaping among young people in South Australia.

Last year during an eight-week blitz, more than 4500 illegal vapes were taken off the streets and 12 Adelaide businesses slapped with fines as part of a targeted crackdown on illegal nicotine sales.

The government also introduced a raft of new outdoor vape and smoke-free areas in March this year, including near beach jetties and patrol flags, schools, kids’ sporting

events and shopping centre entrances as part of tough new laws to protect the community.

On-the-spot fines of $105 and prosecution penalties of $750 apply for people caught smoking or vaping in the prohibited areas.

For more information on vaping, young people can visit www.bevapefree.sa.gov.au

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