Ban on Electronic Cigarette Sales in WA Disappointing
It’s a sad day for those looking to quit smoking and vape instead. After a five-year battle against a conviction for selling e-cigarettes in Western Australia, the WA Supreme Court ruled that it is still illegal to sell vape gear in the West.
Vince van Heerden was the first person to be charged with breaching the Tobacco Products Control Act for selling e-cigarettes. He was first acquitted, then convicted after an appeal by the WA Health Department, but the appeal against that conviction has now failed.
Outside court Vince said he shocked by the decision and is now considering taking the matter to the High Court. However, he has also said doing so would probably see him file for bankruptcy.
Meanwhile the Government has announced its new rules for electronic cigarettes in the ACT and they’re not good!
A bill to be introduced by ACT Health Minister Meegan Fitzharris treats vaporisers, whether or not they contain nicotine, like tobacco – with the same restrictions on where and how they can be used and sold, and the same penalties.
The laws are expected to come into force in the second half the year and will mean shops selling them must hold a tobacco licence. Any food or toys that resemble vaporisers will also be banned and the minister will have the power to declare a vaporiser to be a prohibited smoking product if the smoke has “a distinctive fruity, sweet or confectionery-like character and the product or its packaging may be attractive to children”.
Ms Fitzharris is justifying the move as a way to “reduce the risk of personal vaporisers acting as a gateway to tobacco”. It hardly makes sense when the only place they are allowing you to make a purchase is a licensed tobacco seller. They will now be sold side-by-side with cigarettes.
It makes no sense to have vaporisers under tobacco legislation, when it is illegal to use them, or sell them with nicotine.
Ban and new laws disheartening
In the meantime South Australia is considering its own regulations. In contrast to the ACT, they are recommending that those selling electronic cigarettes must NOT have a tobacco license and only be sold by specialist vape retailers.
They have called for vaping to fall under the same restrictions as smoking, in terms of sale to minors and use in current non-smoking areas. They also want to restrict the type of flavours that can be used, advertising or promoting the products, as well as banning online sales.
Despite governments across Australia seemingly doing their best to squash the use of electronic cigarettes, we remain committed to helping those people who are looking to make the switch from smoking.
We are disheartened by the recent recommendations from the Select Committee into Electronic Cigarettes in South Australia along with the new laws for the ACT and now confirmation that vaporisers are still illegal to sell in Western Australia.
Governments say they are worried that vaping will renormalise smoking, however by criminialising the sale of electronic cigarettes, as has been done in Western Australia and by making it increasingly difficult for entrenched smokers to choose an alternative, they run the risk of making smoking a more accessible and easier choice for those addicted to tobacco. By banning the sale of electronic cigarettes it sends a message that vaping is not much different to smoking and therefore smokers should not bother switching. Over-cautious regulations slow the process away from smoking and create a net harm in the community.
It is not the intent of The Vape Store to renormalise smoking, but to provide an alternative to those that are addicted to nicotine and have been suffering health issues due to inhaling tobacco smoke.
Having sold to thousands of South Australians, we believe the use of electronic cigarettes has been a positive development for those smokers that have struggled to quit the habit. With two retail outlets in Adelaide we are able to consult with customers to ensure they are buying a device that is right for them, the best way to use it and ensure they leave the store with all relevant safety knowledge and the ability to come back in for further advice or any troubleshooting they may need.
The Vape Store does not support the introduction of restrictions on the sale of electronic cigarettes as though they were tobacco products. We believe governments should be looking to adopt a similar approach as in Britain, where through their Codes of the Committee on Advertising Practice, they strike a balance between preventing glamorisation and marketing explicitly to young people, while granting the commercial freedoms necessary to compete with the cigarette trade.
We believe that regulating electronic cigarettes in the same way as tobacco negates the evidence that e-cigarettes are different in terms of physics, chemistry, health risk to the user, and any risk to bystanders. Many studies have shown that vaping can offer significant health benefits to smokers in alleviating symptoms caused by smoking. As they are not tobacco products it would be better for governments to include some regulation so that retailers could promote with confidence the quality of products they sell as well as their business practices. To regulate them as if they were cigarettes is disproportionate to risk and discriminatory.
As Professor Wayne Hall, an expert in addiction, smoking and public health policy with the University of Queensland recently noted: “a policy that bans a less harmful form of nicotine while still allowing the sale of cigarettes is inconsistent.”
He goes on to add that “laws are giving much higher priority to the interests of hypothetical smokers (who could take up smoking via cigarettes) at the expense of current especially addicted smokers.”
For those interested in further supporting Vince van Heerden should he decide to take his case all the way to the High Court, you can make a donation at his GoFundMe page.