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Large numbers of illegal nicotine vaping products seized in a joint TGA-ACT Health operation

Joint media release between ACT Health and Therapeutic Goods Administration

7 December 2021

Dangerous and prohibited ingredients were found in two out of every three nicotine vaping products tested by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), following a joint operation conducted by ACT Health and the TGA in response to community tip-offs.

As part of the operation targeting prohibited sales of nicotine vaping products, a large number of vaping products were removed from three Canberra businesses in October this year. Samples of the seized products have now been tested by the TGA and all were found to contain nicotine. It is especially concerning that two thirds of the products were not labelled as containing nicotine.

Nicotine vaping products are prescription only medicines so it is illegal for Australian retailers other than pharmacies to sell nicotine vaping products, even if the consumer has a valid doctor's prescription. These measures help prevent the uptake of electronic cigarettes by young people, while permitting adult smokers in conjunction with their medical practitioner to use them to assist with smoking cessation where appropriate.

Also of great concern is that two-thirds of the products seized contained one or more of eight ingredients that are prohibited by law in nicotine vaping products as they pose known health risks when inhaled. Six prohibited ingredients were found, including the flavouring agent diacetyl, which when inhaled can cause irreversible lung damage.

Since 1 October 2021, nicotine vaping products supplied in Australia have required a doctors' prescription and must also meet specific labelling, packaging and ingredient requirements laid out in a TGA product standard. None of the products seized met these requirements.

ACT Health and the TGA are continuing their investigations regarding these and other illegal nicotine vaping products. As enforcement options are under consideration, further information on the businesses involved cannot be provided publicly at this stage.

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