The sneaky way Chinese vape kingpins are getting their nicotine-laden devices into Australia – as experts admit it's 'too late' for thousands of addicted kids

Many e-cigarettes that are labelled nicotine-free actually contain high nicotine It means thousands of young Australians are inhaling nicotine without realisingOne insider revealed that there is very little regulation on the sale of e-cigarettes 

Chinese vape companies are sending e-cigarettes filled with nicotine into Australia by brazenly wiping the harmful substance from their ingredients list allowing their addictive devices to breeze through customs and into shops.

The federal government is set to reveal sweeping reforms to stop children vaping this week, but experts have admitted it might be too late for thousands who are already addicted.

Mark Brooke, CEO of Lung Foundation Australia, told Daily Mail Australia that many e-cigarettes that are labelled as nicotine-free ‘actually do, in fact, contain nicotine’.

This means that thousands of young Aussies, who are attracted to the e-cigarettes by social media and ‘fun’ flavours, are unknowingly breathing in and becoming addicted to nicotine.

An insider told Daily Mail Australia: ‘E-cigarettes can be easily bought online through websites or places like Facebook Marketplace where there is generally very little regulation. We also know that brick and mortar stores aren’t checking IDs as they should be either.

‘The different fun and fruity flavours are very clearly targeted towards kids, and social media advertising is targeting this demographic.’

Mark Brooke, CEO of Lung Foundation Australia, told Daily Mail Australia that many e-cigarettes that are labelled as nicotine-free 'actually do, in fact, contain nicotine'

Mark Brooke, CEO of Lung Foundation Australia, told Daily Mail Australia that many e-cigarettes that are labelled as nicotine-free ‘actually do, in fact, contain nicotine’

Discussing the dangers of nicotine for children, Mr Brooke added: ‘As well as being highly addictive, nicotine can harm the still-developing adolescent brain, particularly in areas that control attention, learning, mood, and behavioural control.

‘There is also evidence to indicate that vaping can lead to several adverse health impacts including cancers and increases in heart and lung disease.

‘It’s illegal for children to buy e-cigarettes, and for anyone to buy nicotine containing e-cigarettes without a prescription, but we know that the industry is largely unregulated, and children are easily accessing these products.

‘E-cigarettes are often mislabelled and can contain over 200 chemicals including formaldehyde that can cause irreversible lung damage and propylene glycol, which is toxic to human cells.’

In Australia, it is illegal to sell, supply or possess an e-cigarette that contains nicotine without a doctor’s prescription.

However this hasn’t stopped some suppliers, who are just removing nicotine from the ingredients list, even if it is present in their vapes.

There are fears that thousands of Aussie children are unwittingly consuming nicotine, as well as other dangerous ingredients including acetone and pulegone.

Federal Health Minister Mark Butler revealed vaping had doubled in the country between 2016 and 2019 and, in New South Wales, almost a third of 16-24 year-olds had tried vaping last year. 

Thousands of young Aussies, who are attracted to the e-cigarettes by social media and 'fun' flavours, are unknowingly breathing in and becoming addicted to nicotine

Thousands of young Aussies, who are attracted to the e-cigarettes by social media and ‘fun’ flavours, are unknowingly breathing in and becoming addicted to nicotine

An insider told Daily Mail Australia: 'E-cigarettes can be easily bought online through websites or places like Facebook marketplace where there is generally very little regulation'

An insider told Daily Mail Australia: ‘E-cigarettes can be easily bought online through websites or places like Facebook marketplace where there is generally very little regulation’

Meanwhile, vaping in the state of Victoria has doubled in frequency in four years, according to a Victorian Smoking & Health Survey.

In an alarming trend, the data also showed there had been a sharp ‘five-fold’ rise in women aged 18 to 24 using the e-cigarettes across the state.

Vapers in this age group, which made up 2.8 per cent of users under 30 in 2018-2019, has soared to 15.2 per cent in 2022, the research showed.

Mr Butler’s proposed reforms are expected to include a ban on the import of nicotine vaping products and a crackdown on social media advertising of tobacco and vapes.

NSW Health revealed it had seized more than 157,000 vapes containing nicotine in raids in the 18 months to September.

Dozens of retailers were also prosecuted for selling the product, but chief health officer Kerry Chant said it was ‘just the tip of the iceberg’.

Quit Victoria Director, Dr Sarah White, said decades of success in tobacco control could be undone with the ready availability of illegal e-cigarettes.

‘We have an estimated 77,200 never smokers reporting they are currently using e-cigarettes, and more than half of past year e-cigarette users are vaping nicotine,’ she said in a statement.

‘At a time when, as a society, we are trying to reduce preventable ill-health, this is a slow-motion train wreck for Victoria.’

Vapers have already been calling up the state’s Quitline, saying they can’t shake the e-cigarette habit.

The data also showed Victorian vapers, who numbered 154,895 in 2018 to 2019, now amount to 308,827.

Vaping has been declared by experts as the nation’s next ‘big health issue’ as the number of Australians smoking e-cigarettes continues to rapidly rise.

In June, Year 12 student Ruby shared how she was just 14 when she had her first vape and quickly became addicted.

She revealed how simple it was to get hold of them being sold under the counter or on social media.

‘I don’t want to be, like, a massive snitch but it’s actually, like, super easy,’ Ruby, 17, told Four Corners.

‘You can buy them from convenience stores and there’s also kids and young adults who buy them overseas in bulk.’

‘There’s lots of street dealers doing stuff. You go on your phone, you’re like, ‘Can I pick up a vape?’ and they’re like, ’20 minutes’. And you just meet them somewhere and they just hand it to you.

‘I think it’s the same as any other drugs. It’s definitely word of mouth and social media as well.’

She still remembers her first vape, which she described ‘like dying but in a good way’.

Meanwhile, calls to the NSW Poisons Information Centre for accidental vaping exposures in toddlers have more than tripled in the past year, it was revealed in July.

In 2021, children aged one to four years accounted for 48 per cent of all calls related to vaping exposures, with 127 calls made to the NSWPIC hotline.

This is three times higher than the number of calls made for this age group in 2020.

Dr Darren Roberts, Medical Director of the NSWPIC, said: ‘We know vaping inhalant already has the potential to be a highly toxic substance in adults so the concern is even more real for toddlers and young children.’

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