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Highly addictive nicotine liquids for sale in Melbourne

Posted 6 Mar, 2020

Tobacconists in Melbourne’s inner suburbs are illegally selling fruit-flavoured nicotine liquids likely to appeal to children just metres from local primary and high schools.

Last night, the Herald Sun revealed three stores in the south-eastern suburb of Windsor were openly selling a variety of nicotine-containing liquids and e-cigarette devices in contravention of both state and federal laws (1). 

In the USA and Canada, there has been an explosion of e-cigarette use by teens, with the US Surgeon-General describing teen uptake of addictive e-cigarettes as “an epidemic”. Public health and medical bodies in Australia have warned there is a risk a whole new generation could become addicted to nicotine before the harms of e-cigarettes are fully understood. 

Quit Director Dr Sarah White said the apparent lack of any monitoring or enforcement of the laws made it easy for unscrupulous retailers to ignore the law in the interests of making a profit. 

“This is commercial opportunism at its worst. Retailers are openly flouting laws to sell addictive products, many of which are known to appeal to kids, and there appear to be absolutely no consequences. The Royal Children’s Hospital Child Health Poll has shown that nearly one in five children who had tried an e-cigarette had purchased nicotine liquid or a nicotine-containing e-cigarette from a retail store,” she said. 

“It’s time to simply ban the retail sale of the hundreds of unregulated e-cigarettes and e-cigarette liquids until a device has been approved by our Therapeutic Goods Administration as being safe and effective for smoking cessation,” Dr White said.

President of AMA Victoria, Associate Professor Julian Rait said the tobacco industry is once again relying on their devious tactics. 

“This is another example of the appalling tobacco industry business model to get young people addicted to tobacco as early in life as possible. “

In 2019, a toddler in Victoria died from accidentally ingesting nicotine liquid, and calls to Australian poisons centres about children being exposed to nicotine have increased significantly over the past several years.


(1) Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Act 1981

Key provision applying to retailers is section 27 which provides: ‘A person (not being a manufacturer or a wholesale dealer) shall not sell or supply any poison or controlled substance…unless he is authorised by or licensed under this Act to do so.’

Nicotine is a ‘listed regulated poison’ (as defined under the Drugs, Poisons and Controlled Substances Regulations 2017) when in an e-cigarette.

A retailer supplying nicotine e-cigarettes products to the public would appear to be in breach of s27.

Media release

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