When you hear ‘blackmarket,’ something sinister and dangerous comes to mind.
Typically, blackmarkets are associated with the sale of illegal drugs, alcohol, weapons, contraband, and other products deemed dangerous and falling outside of any regulation.
This concept of a blackmarket also applies to illegal nicotine vaping products (NVPs). Criminal parties importing and distributing these products in the country have flooded the local market with vapes of very questionable quality and safety.
Illicit NVPs (such as those in convenience stores and tobacconists) are imported under the radar, just like illicit tobacco and drugs, and are made as cheaply as possible for maximum profits.
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Due to their lack of any manufacturing standards at all, they contain high levels of uncharacterized and potentially hazardous chemicals.
A recent lab test has shown that these illegal vapes can contain high levels of cancer-causing nickel and lead.
These deadly products are also reaching the hands of children as young as five years old, along with huge numbers of non-smokers and teenagers. Their availability almost anywhere – convenience stores, tobacconists, and even kid’s toy shops, makes them ubiquitous and hard to avoid.
Buying from these criminal parties is a form of support towards their goal of creating a new generation of addicts – the same playbook they use for the drugs they also sell.
In this post, we’ll take a closer look at the local vaping blackmarket and what we can do to prevent its growth and give motivated smokers the best tool for quitting.
What Defines a ‘Blackmarket’?
As mentioned, a blackmarket refers to an underground or illicit economy where parties illegally trade goods, services, or commodities while operating outside the legal framework established by the government or any regulatory authority.
Moreover, when you buy something from a blackmarket, you’re likely buying a shoddy product at an unfair price.
Blackmarkets have a very long history of lacking transparency and massive price gouging – in this case, the vaping blackmarket distributors flood the market with low-quality products they’re buying for as little as $1, and selling onto vulnerable consumers at a 3,500% mark-up.
How to Know if You Bought Vapes from the Blackmarket
Fortunately, it’s very easy to know if you’ve bought illegal vapes from the blackmarket.
If it’s available anywhere outside of a registered pharmacy, it’s an illegal blackmarket vape. You can find them in corner shops alongside candies and snacks, with the shop owners selling them to anyone with $35 – even children.
Luckily, local opinion on illegal vapes is changing as the new regulations prohibit the sale and distribution of imported vapes without a prescription.
More About Pharmacy NVPs
NVPs sold in pharmacies are made under stringent pharmaceutical standards on the manufacturing process and ingredients, are toxicologically assessed for inhalation, are locally insured, and are specifically designed to help you stop smoking.
More and more GPs are confident in prescribing pharmacy NVPs to their patients because of their high manufacturing standards and efficacy over standard NRT quit aids. The latest Cochrane Review found high-certainty evidence that NVPs are more effective than NRT in helping people stop smoking.
Most importantly, the prescription model of NVPs from pharmacies ensures they’re kept away from non-smokers, teens, and children who shouldn’t have access to them in the first place.
Am I Breaking the Law for Buying Illegal Vapes?
If you bought vapes from any establishment aside from pharmacies, you’re breaking the law.
Not only do you possess a subpar and dangerous product, but you might also have a run-in with the local authorities and have to pay a fine of $11,000 to $55,000 for possessing NVPs without a prescription.
However, with the new import laws strengthening the framework for pharmacy NVPs, illicit NVPs won’t be as prevalent as they were before.
Can I Still Import Vapes from Overseas?
Yes, but only if you have a GP’s prescription and the product you purchase matches the nicotine level and other specifications your GP prescribes.
However, if your GP indicated that you must only purchase an NVP from a local pharmacy, you cannot import vapes from overseas as they would not match your prescription.
How Do I Buy Vapes Without Breaking the Law?
The only way to buy vapes legally and not enrich the blackmarket is through pharmacies. Here’s the process to help you get started on a quit journey with an effective aid that’s proven to work for motivated smokers.
Go Through First-Line Solutions First
As mentioned, you need a nicotine prescription before you can purchase NVPs. As a second-line solution, one requirement is that you’ve already tried and failed to quit smoking with a first-line treatment, such as NRT products.
NRT products (like patches and gums) are the most trusted quitting option available for motivated smokers. They might not imitate cigarettes, but they contain a small dose of nicotine that may be enough to alleviate your withdrawals.
While NRTs can be effective, they don’t work for everyone. If these haven’t done the trick for you, you may be eligible for a nicotine prescription.
Chat to a GP
As mentioned, NRT products have worked for many successful ex-smokers. But, you might have ingrained behaviours and triggers that only something that mimics a cigarette can successfully address, such as the hand-to-mouth motion, and needing something to use while having a drink with friends.
If your GP deems it necessary, they can write you a nicotine prescription for NVPs.
You can chat to your usual GP about this, or book a bulk-billed phone chat with an authorised prescriber of nicotine.
Visit a Local Pharmacy
Once you have your nicotine prescription, you can pop down to your local pharmacy. Over 2,200 pharmacies across Australia hold these products in-store, but any pharmacy can order these in for you if they don’t currently stock them.
Both your pharmacist and GP can advise you on how best to use the product, such as the initial setup, and the number of puffs to take when you feel withdrawals.
The vaping blackmarket thrives on making profits and not caring about the quality of their products or the customers they sell to, especially not considering their age and need for smoking cessation.
By buying NVPs from pharmacies, you can stem the growth of this blackmarket and give yourself a quit-smoking aid that’s far more effective and works especially well under a smoking cessation programme.
We know you’re reading this because you want to know more about the vaping blackmarket always mentioned in the news. We hope you found this information useful.
If you want to start quitting smoking for good, we can help.
Smokefree Clinic gives you access to many medically reviewed and trustworthy resources that can inform and aid you in your path to wellness, so have a look around!
If you’re ready to get started, Smokefree can connect you to bulk-billing Australian healthcare professionals who excel in helping patients quit smoking for good, including using responsible vaping products where appropriate.
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