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Massive Vape Seizure In Adelaide Amidst Disposable Vape Import Ban

30 January 2024 | 2:24 pm | Jessie Lynch

Authorities said nearly 250,000 vapes have been intercepted since January 1 when the ban came into effect.

Disposable Vapes

Disposable Vapes (Canva)

The Australian Border Force (ABF) has intercepted over 13 tonnes of disposable vapes in Adelaide, marking the first significant bust since the implementation of import bans on single-use vapes.

ABF Assistant Commissioner Chris Waters said the recent week saw the seizure of 150,000 disposable vapes valued at $4.5 million in two separate shipments in South Australia. The shipments, initially declared as "refillable atomisers," originated from China, arriving in Melbourne before being transported to South Australia.

"Investigations are still continuing, but we don't think South Australia was the sole intended location for these vapes," Waters said.

"We've seen a significant decrease in the importation since [January 1] as industry has adapted to those changes. It's difficult to know what the market is, but quarter of a million is a pretty good start for the first 30 days of [this] new legislation."

Officials reported that close to 250,000 vapes, valued at approximately $7.4 million, have been seized since January 1, when the disposable vape import laws came into effect.

The federal government's crackdown on disposable vapes is part of broader national regulations that came into effect on January 1. The new laws make it illegal to purchase disposable vapes from overseas, irrespective of their nicotine content or therapeutic claims.

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In contrast, doctors now have the authority to prescribe therapeutic vapes.

Health Minister Mark Butler commended ABF's efforts, emphasizing that the seizure is a significant blow to a market increasingly controlled by organized crime, outlaw motorcycle gangs, and other criminal elements.

"This is a quarter of a million disposable vapes that will not end up in the hands of our children," Mr Butler said.

"Importantly, it's also choking off a market that is increasingly controlled by organised crime, by outlaw motorcycle gangs and other organised criminal gangs."

Looking ahead, stricter vaping laws are set to be enforced from March 1.

Minister Butler outlined upcoming changes, including a ban on importing refillable, non-therapeutic vapes and personal importation of therapeutic vapes without a permit from the Office of Drug Protection. The vapes allowed for importation must comply with new standards set by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.

"This is really designed to make sure to the extent there is a therapeutic pathway or therapeutic use for vapes, on prescription from your doctor or nurse practitioner or through your pharmacy," he said.

Moreover, Minister Butler intended to introduce legislation to curb the sale and supply of non-prescription vapes.

The proposed laws aim to close loopholes that currently permit the opening of vape stores and establish stringent standards for vapes, including plain flavours, prescribed nicotine levels, and pharmaceutical packaging.

"From 1st of March, it will only be possible to import vapes with a permit from the Office of Drug Protection and those vapes will need to comply with new standards that are put in place by the Therapeutic Goods Administration," Butler said.