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Cashing in on kids: dodgy retailers flout the law by brazenly selling e-cigarettes to children

Posted 22 June, 2021

An investigation in today’s Herald Sun has revealed tobacco retailers in Melbourne’s south east brazenly selling e-cigarettes to children, breaking a series of laws banning the sale of addictive vaping products.

Dr Sarah White, director of Quit said the time has come to enforce tougher penalties on retailers breaking the law.

“It’s horrifying that these products are so brazenly being sold to children and retailers feel they can ignore the law with impunity,” she said.

“It’s time the government took action against retailers who are choosing to put their own profits over and above the health of Victorian kids. Enough is enough,” Dr White said.

“We need a retail licensing scheme to make sure retailers understand their obligations under Victoria’s laws, to support local governments monitoring and enforcing legal breaches and to act as a deterrent to retailers who want to make a profit out of kids.”

Earlier this month, a US study analysing the data on violations of sales to minor laws found that states with retailer licensing schemes had significantly lower sales of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, to minors. That study concluded that retailer licensing was needed across states to enhance compliance and enforcement with age of sale laws.

Mr Todd Harper CEO of Cancer Council Victoria said that research on Victorian attitudes conducted by the Cancer Council and other research by the team at La Trobe University on Australian attitudes had shown high levels of support for the licensing of tobacco and e-cigarette retailers.

“About 83 per cent of Victorians supported the idea that retailers should have a license to sell tobacco products,” Mr Harper said.

“This support is absolutely consistent with the community’s understanding that there are long-term consequences of retailers selling products to make a quick buck at the expense of the health of our kids. Addiction, and the effect of nicotine on the developing adolescent brain, are long-term health consequences. They really cannot be taken lightly,” he said.

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