Despite hefty fines hanging in the air for the illegal sale of nicotine vapes, at least two Geraldton stores are still selling them, leaving other retailers following the rules frustrated and confused. Smoke and vaporiser stores opening their doors in Geraldton have raised concerns for other retailers who have been told by the Department of Health that selling e-cigarette devices, nicotine vaping products and their components is illegal. The Geraldton Guardian understands there is a vape store and a tobacco retailer in Geraldton that are selling disposable nicotine-containing vapes, while at least four stores sell components to build a vape. Rigters Supermarket Group operations manager Stuart Bain said he had pulled hundreds of dollars of non-nicotine stock from their supermarket shelves after receiving correspondence from the department that selling vape products was illegal. He said it was frustrating to see new businesses opening in Geraldton and “selling illegal products with no consequences”. “We need clarification from the Department of Health on what is legal and what’s not,” Mr Bain said. “If they can clarify and say that non-nicotine products are legal to sell, then that opens it up for your traditional tobacco retailers to do it without threat of fines or losing their tobacco licence.” Prices range from $40-80 for a disposable vape. Nicotine products are regulated under two regulatory schemes — the Medicines and Poisons (MP) Act and the Tobacco Products Control (TPC) Act — both which carry different regulations. According to the Department of Health, anyone selling vaping devices and their components may be liable for offences under the TPC Act, which carries penalties up to $10,000 for an individual’s first offence, and $40,000 for a company. Fines go up to $20,000 and $80,000, respectively, for subsequent offences. Under the MP Act, it is an offence for any person to possess or supply a product containing nicotine without authority. Under that Act, the maximum fines are $225,000 for companies and $45,000 for individuals. A WA Health spokesperson said despite it being illegal to sell nicotine vaping products in WA, fines weren’t being enforced. “The relevant legislation does not provide for fines in these cases, but where retailers are repeatedly found with vapes, prosecution is a possible penalty,” the spokesperson said. “The department is considering legal action against a number of more serious offenders, but cannot make any comment on matters that are in progress.” A spokesman from a smoke store in Geraldton’s CBD said it was not fair that disposable vapes containing nicotine were being sold under the counter while other stores were “checked through a tooth of a comb”. “Say no to one, say no to all,” he said. “We have to sell it in two separate transactions so we can sell vapes, but nothing we sell has nicotine and we have to check for ID to make sure they’re over 18.” A staff member at a local smoke and gift store said even she was confused about the rules and most people were able to bypass restrictions on vapes by purchasing goods online. The store sells non-nicotine juices and individual parts to make up a vape, but did not sell every part to build a complete vape, which the spokesperson said was legal. In June, the department revealed 2000 premises in WA had been inspected for vapes and 24,000 products had been seized in the past 12 months. In the past six months, 50 retailers have been provided formal warnings. Federal Health Minister Mark Butler said work was in progress at the Commonwealth level with discussions about how vaping reforms would be implemented. “We are engaging with States and Territories to ensure we have a comprehensive enforcement framework,” he said. “We will quickly determine the precise shape of those resources and an agreed enforcement mechanism between all governments.” Last month when revealing health authorities had seized a haul of 17,000 vapes on a truck travelling to WA from NSW, Health Minister Amber-Jade Sanderson said educating stores and potential sellers had been the focus for the past year and now the department was escalating their enforcement, vowing more enforcements would start to trickle through. There have been no known convictions for the sale of illegal e-cigarettes in WA. The first test, however, is before the courts with popular Perth tobacco chain “Up in Smoke” facing two charges relating to the unlawful possession and supply of a prescription drug.