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Tougher penalties ahead after $1m illegal vaping blitz

Tougher penalties are in sight for retailers caught selling illegal vapes after more than $1 million worth of the contraband was seized in a fresh blitz.

Over 30,000 illegal vapes were uncovered stashed in secret rooms and drawers, behind fake walls and inside ceiling panels in a series of raids across Sydney.

About 60 retailers were targeted in the blitz throughout the city's southeast.

More than 30,000 e-cigarettes, 118,000 cigarettes, 45kg of flavoured and loose-leaf tobacco and 284 containers of nicotine pouches were taken, NSW Health said.

Health Minister Ryan Park said the seizure represented just a small portion of the illegal vapes available to buyers.

"We have a community that is awash with these products," he said on Tuesday.

Mr Park said authorities were trying to make it as difficult as possible for young people to access the products.

He warned there would be more raids to come, noting current penalties for rogue sellers were not in line with the harm caused.

Under a national crackdown introduced in January, access to e-cigarettes for therapeutic purposes requires a prescription from a medical or nurse practitioner.

It is illegal in NSW to sell nicotine vapes without a prescription to anyone under the age of 18 and fines of up to $110,000 apply.

Further changes due in March are expected to outlaw the personal importation of vapes and the importation of non-therapeutic vapes.

Mr Park said he expected the legislative review would ratchet up existing fines.

"Quite simply, they're not high enough given the scale of this problem," he said.

Importers will also need to be licensed and, along with manufacturers, will be required to notify the national drugs regulator of their products' compliance.

"(Retailers) will need to change their business model because the legislation ... will essentially make these products illegal unless they're through a pharmacy or a therapeutic model," Mr Park said.

NSW chief health officer Kerry Chant said the passing of Commonwealth legislation would be a "game changer" in stemming the tide of the emerging crisis.

"It's going to take a good six to 12 months before we see substantial closing down of the supply avenue," she said.

The maximum penalty for illegally selling e-cigarettes is $1650 per offence, six months in prison, or both.

Retailers can also be prosecuted and fined up to $55,000 for selling e-cigarette products to minors and up to $110,000 for any subsequent offences.

Fines of $3756 for an individual and $18,780 for a corporation also apply for illegal advertising, import or supply.

The NSW Cancer Council says vapes have a host of cancer-causing chemicals, were leading non-smokers to cigarettes and often contained unlabelled nicotine in higher quantities than cigarettes.