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Metro South Public Health Unit has successfully prosecuted Zam Zam Supermarket in Kuraby for possession and sale of personal vaporisers (vapes) containing nicotine.
Under Queensland law nicotine is a regulated poison, subject to enforcement by Queensland Health Environmental Health Officers
The matter was heard at the Holland Park Magistrates Court on 18 April 2023, with the company pleading guilty to two charges of possession and sale of personal vaporisers and e-liquids containing nicotine.
The presiding magistrate ordered the company to pay $88,845, inclusive of analyst and legal costs, with a conviction recorded.
The warrants were initiated after Queensland Health received a number of complaints from members of the public including a deputy principal from a secondary school where children as young as thirteen years old were purchasing vapes from the business.
On 13 May 2021 Environmental Health Officers from Metro South Public Health Unit executed two warrants for properties in Kuraby, with the assistance of the Queensland Police Service and the Australian Taxation Office (ATO), resulting in the seizure of 45,449 personal vaporisers and 33 e-liquids.
During sentencing the magistrate referenced statements indicating that children had purchased vapes from the business and denounced the conduct for exposing young people to health risks that are avoidable.
Metro South Health Director of Environmental Health Melinda Lennon said in Queensland, the possession and sale of nicotine is restricted under the Medicines and Poisons Act 2019 and Environmental Health Officers enforce the provisions of the Act in relation to vapes.
“We hope the successful prosecution and penalty deters other persons from engaging in the illegal supply of vapes containing nicotine.”
ATO Assistant Commissioner Jade Hawkins said that while the ATO is primarily focused on targeting the source of illicit tobacco supply, we also support our partner agencies to create a level playing field in the retail sector.
“Retailers choosing to become involved in the sale of illegal tobacco products gain an unfair price advantage over honest businesses who are doing the right thing.”
Queensland Health continues to raise specific concerns about the health impacts of vapes containing nicotine, including the harms and addictive qualities of nicotine.
More information on electronic cigarettes can be found at https://www.qld.gov.au/health/staying-healthy/atods/smoking/devices