Fatal levels of nicotine in Queensland vapes

 

Exclusive: Tens of thousands of illegal e-cigarette devices and liquids containing nicotine have been seized by state authorities - and many contain the substance at fatal levels.

Poisons information lines are receiving dozens of calls about nicotine poisoning related to vaping devices and last year a baby died after consuming liquid from an e-cigarette.

Consumption of the products is soaring, undermining gains in tobacco control.

Smoking cessation body QUIT yesterday said it was time for an import ban to be slapped on the products.

While it is legal to sell flavoured e-cigarette liquids that don't contain nicotine, the sale of liquids or devices that contain nicotine is banned in all states.

 

Police officers raid a Sydney tobacconist in 2019. Picture: AAP
Police officers raid a Sydney tobacconist in 2019. Picture: AAP

 

Of a test of nearly 1000 samples of liquids used in e-cigarettes, 60 per cent were found to contain it.

Half of these "had a nicotine concentration of more than 2500mg/L, which may be fatal to children or adults", NSW Health said of its test results.

Parents of teens say suppliers are advertising nicotine containing disposable e-cigarettes on social media and selling them out of car boots at railway stations or offering home delivery.

And a News Corp investigation has found tobacconists in Sydney and Logan, Queensland prepared to supply the devices to our reporters even though it is against the law.

At a vape shop in Logan our reporter was initially shown a range of fruit and non-liquid refills.

But after further inquiries, store workers opened another cabinet containing illegal nicotine products.

A vial of chocolate-flavoured E-Liquid Plus and bubblegum-flavoured HQD Disposable Pod Device, both of which contained nicotine, shown to our reporter at a Logan vape shop.
A vial of chocolate-flavoured E-Liquid Plus and bubblegum-flavoured HQD Disposable Pod Device, both of which contained nicotine, shown to our reporter at a Logan vape shop.

Our reporter was shown a vial of chocolate-flavoured E-Liquid Plus and bubblegum-flavoured HQD Disposable Pod Device, both of which contained nicotine.

At a different Queensland shop, the shopkeeper said he didn't sell nicotine-based products, but slipped the reporter a piece of paper with a link to a website that would.

New nicotine salt technology used in disposable vaping devices that look like USB sticks or highlighter pens produce no smoke so their use is undetectable by teachers or parents.

State governments are working to crack down on the illegal products.

Queensland Health said in the past two years its compliance officers had visited or responded to complaints, seized nicotine or initiated prosecution against close to 200 retailers.

 

Not enough is being done to enforce a ban on e-cigarettes with nicotine, says QUIT. Picture: Supplied
Not enough is being done to enforce a ban on e-cigarettes with nicotine, says QUIT. Picture: Supplied

 

"Absolutely not enough is being done in Australia to control this," QUIT director Sarah White said.

"We really need to have (Health) Minister (Greg) Hunt move to put these devices on the import ban list because that will stop some of these really egregious online sellers."

Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Acting President Associate Professor Ayman Shenouda said "if you choose to vape, you're gambling with your health".

"The existing research shows a range of concerning side effects, including nausea, insomnia, coughing and a dry, irritated mouth or throat," he said.

Originally published as Fatal levels of nicotine in Queensland vapes



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