Australia battles growing black market for vapes after crackdown

Australia's Border Force is battling a growing black market for vapes as people try to smuggle millions of dollars of them into the country.

It comes as New Zealand mothers pleaded with the Government on Wednesday to ban the sale of vapes in stores such as dairies.

Two and a half tonnes of black market vapes were uncovered by Australia's border force, hidden in packages of clothing they're worth over half a million dollars.

"They will try circumvent our border controls, and their attempts to be sneaky haven't been successful," said Asha Patwardhan from Australian Border Force.

Australia's ban on importing disposable vapes began in January. In the first two months alone $11.3 million worth of single-use vapes were seized.

 "If you're looking at importing vapes into Australia - we will be watching," she warned.

The New Zealand Government is also aiming to ban disposable vapes this year and increase retailer restrictions and fines.

However, the campaign group Vape Free Kids NZ wants it to go further. It presented a petition to a parliamentary select committee on Wednesday calling for a ban on the sale of vaping products in non-vape stores, such as dairies.

 Co-Founder Charyl Robinson urged politicians to think about the impact on Kiwi kids.

"Consider whether you really truly believe in your hearts that your policies put those children above the commercially driven industries that want access to them," she said.

Co-Founder Anna Stewart also begged them to crack down on the sale of vapes.

"It's time to do the right thing. Remember my son, remember your own sons and daughters, and protect them before it's too late," she said.

The Asthma and Respiratory Foundation welcomes the upcoming ban and doesn't believe it will result in them being smuggled through the border, despite retailers claiming that will be the case.  In fact, it said there's already a black market for vapes in New Zealand schools due to the age restrictions.

Ministry of Health told Newshub it will consider the risks.

"The ban on disposable vapes has not yet come into effect in New Zealand and timeframes are yet to be confirmed. As we work through the details, we will consider the risks (such as the potential for a black market) and how they may be mitigated," a spokesperson said.