Convenience stores

Australian Convenience Association pushes for national vaping summit

Australia’s top convenience store body wants tougher vaping regulations, including a licensing regime for retailers.

It comes after the Therapeutic Goods Association (TGA) introduced a prescription-only model in all states and territories for nicotine-containing vapes and e-cigarettes in October last year.

“This decision will both reduce the risk of an on-ramp for teenagers,” former health minister Greg Hunt said in December 2020.

But Australian Convenience Stores Association strategy and policy adviser Ben Meredith said the decision had failed to keep the products out of reach of young people and more needed to be done.

Mr Meredith said the current regulatory model was fueling the “ever-growing black market”.

“By continuing down this path, we are enabling young people to access these products through illegitimate retail or online,” Mr. Meredith said.

The association has commissioned research into the use of vaping in Australia.(Provided )

The association has commissioned Roy Morgan to conduct research into the use of vaping in Australia as part of its push for tougher reforms.

Research has shown that vaping has increased by 259% over the past five years.

More than 1.1 million people vape, and 88% of all e-cigarette purchases in Australia are made on the illicit black market, according to research.

“It tells us that the ban that has been put in place is not working,” Mr Meredith said.

man with beard smiles at camera while wearing plaid shirt
Ben Meredith says there needs to be a national discussion about vaping laws.(Provided)

Meredith said the association wants federal and state governments to come together for a national summit to address the issue.

The association has suggested a series of measures, including the implementation of a national licensing regime for all retailers of vaping products containing nicotine.

In a statement to the ABC, a spokesman for federal health minister Mark Butler said “better options to combat e-cigarette marketing and use” were discussed at the table. inaugural round on tobacco control last week.

A close-up of Butler's face, looking serious, with blue curtains in the background.
Mark Butler chaired the first Roundtable on Tobacco Control. (ABC News: Nick Haggarty)

“The former government ditched vaping,” the spokesperson said.

The spokesperson said the TGA was strengthening its compliance and enforcement activities with states and territories and the Australian Border Force.

“The TGA is also considering whether changes to the existing regulatory regime could reduce access to nicotine vaping products by teens and young adults, and ensure that smokers only use nicotine e-cigarettes with their doctor’s advice and prescription,” the spokesperson said. said.

Stores “impacted” by the black market

Vaping products lined up on a table.
There are no TGA-approved nicotine vapes or e-cigarettes on the Australian Therapeutic Goods Registry.(ABC South East SA: Lucy Robinson)

Mr Meredith said convenience stores were also being harmed by the prescription-only model, with customers choosing retailers selling illegal products over those doing the right thing.

Of the 7,000 convenience stores represented by the association, 1,400 are in Victoria, including 600 in regional areas of the state.

“We need to protect them from illegitimate retailers,” Mr Meredith said.

“Consumers are entering these outlets simply because they are selling e-cigarettes and vapes that contain nicotine.”

He said some outlets in Victoria had seen a 20% drop in sales due to reduced foot traffic.

“It impacts small businesses and the community,” he said.