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Melbourne-based individual fined $5,328 for alleged unlawful importation of nicotine vaping products

23 February 2022

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has issued two infringement notices totalling $5,328 to a Melbourne-based individual for alleged unlawful importation of nicotine vaping products.

It is alleged that the individual imported more than 19kg of nicotine vaping products from overseas. The nicotine vaping products were not registered on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) to the individual and were not exempt from being registered.

In Australia, to purchase nicotine vaping products for personal use, individuals must hold a valid prescription from an Australian doctor. Nicotine vaping products can be purchased from a pharmacy or imported under the Personal Importation Scheme. The volume imported in this case was more than what is allowed under the Scheme where a maximum of 3 months' supply can be imported at one time with a maximum of 15 months' supply in a 12-month period.

The penalty, including the substantial financial loss resulting from seizure of the products, serves as a warning to others who are considering attempting to unlawfully import nicotine vaping products.

Advice for consumers

The TGA has published information for consumers on how to legally access nicotine vaping products following consultation and a prescription from their doctor as a treatment to help stop smoking.

The TGA advises consumers that if they are considering buying vaping products online it is important to be vigilant, especially when the seller does not ask for a valid prescription for products containing nicotine. Products sold online that are not entered in the ARTG may be counterfeit (fake), containing undeclared (hidden) ingredients. Consumers are encouraged to ask the overseas supplier the questionsabout the ingredients, packaging, labelling and manufacturing of the product.

The TGA has conducted laboratory testing on a number of vaping products and has found a large number to contain undeclared nicotine and prohibited substances that are harmful when inhaled.

Accidental ingestion of, or exposure (such as through the skin or eyes) to, nicotine vaping products can have toxic and sometimes severe effects. There is a risk of accidental child poisoning if a container is left open in the process of refilling/mixing, or in vaping devices that do not have the appropriate child-resistant safety features (including where a child is able to suck on the vaping device).

You can seek urgent medical attention if you are exposed to or have ingested a nicotine vaping product by calling emergency services 000 and the Poisons Information Centre on 131 126.

If you suspect non-compliance in relation to therapeutic goods, you can report illegal or questionable practices online to the TGA.