The Victorian Coalition Government is launching a campaign to help combat solvent abuse, Minister for Mental Health Mary Wooldridge said today.
Ms Wooldridge said the government was working with retailers to stop the sale of butane lighter refills, spray paints and other solvents to people who may misuse them.
"Solvent abuse can be very harmful, with more than 40 solvent abuse related deaths recorded in Victoria over the past decade and more than 100 ambulance attendances related to solvent abuse in the 2010-11 year," Ms Wooldridge said.
"I'm writing to 3,000 retailers to let them know the Coalition Government is providing a new and improved kit of information, Responsible Sale of Solvents – A Retailer's Kit, in response to concerns about inhalant abuse and the harms to the community.
"The aim of the updated kit is to assist retailers to sell solvents such as spray paint, butane gas lighter refills and adhesives in a responsible manner. While solvent abuse only affects a small number in the Victorian community, it is a very harmful and potentially fatal form of substance abuse."
The government has joined forces with retailers to develop the materials in the kit.
"I'm asking retailers of solvent products to follow the advice and tips contained in the kit to ensure the responsible sale of these products," Ms Wooldridge said.
The kit provides advice to stores on the display, storage and sale of solvents, as well as tips for how staff can respond to customers when solvent abuse is suspected. Staff should be alert for customers who: have the smell of vapour on the clothes or breath; paint stains around the mouth, skin, or clothes; rash or sore spots around the mouth; red and watery eyes and a runny nose; appear drunk or are falling over; are confused or disorientated; are loitering around areas where solvents are displayed.
It is an offence to sell solvents to a person the salesperson believes will misuse it. The penalty for retailers is $5,000, imprisonment of up to two years, or both.
Attached: Campaign materials