Vaping debate reignites

The Victorian Government’s plan to stop people from vaping in areas where smoking is banned has reignited debate about e-cigarettes.

E-cigarette smoking, often called ‘vaping’, is set to be banned in smoke-free places in Victoria, while e-cigarette advertising will also be banned.

Victorian Health Minister Jill Hennessy announced last month the new laws would stop children from purchasing the electronic and water-based smoking devices even if they did not contain nicotine.

“Our tough new laws will protect young kids from the risks of e-cigarettes and help de-normalise smoking,” Ms Hennessy said in a press release.

Australian Medical Association (AMA) WA vice president Andrew Miller said the Federal Government should extend the Victorian laws to the rest of Australia.

“The AMA (WA) fully endorses the recent law changes in Victoria regarding electronic cigarettes, and urges the Federal Government to implement similar restrictions country-wide,” Dr Miller said.

“The jury is still out on both the safety and efficacy of e-cigarettes as quitting aids.”

In WA, electronic cigarettes are treated under law as being a device used to mimic smoking. As a result, the sale and supply of e-cigarettes is illegal.

Elise Phillips, whose Brisbane-based business VapingMad is one of Australia’s biggest e-cigarette online distributors, said sales to WA had increased by 45 per cent since the state outlawed the sale and supply of e-cigarettes in 2014.

“I think the WA laws requiring vapers to purchase e-cigs interstate and/or overseas is no more than uneducated and hasty decision making,” Phillips said.

“I personally believe it has caused a reduction in small business opportunities and has forced money unnecessarily out of the WA economy.”

According to a new report by the Royal College of Physicians in the United Kingdom, e-cigarettes have helped up to one million smokers quit.

Dr Miller said there were other ways to quit.

“We urge all smokers trying to quit to speak to their GP about the approved quitting aids currently offered,” Dr Miller said.

“We have grave concerns that ‘vaping’ glorifies smoking, particularly to teenagers, and becomes a gateway to tobacco use.”

Ms Phillips said e-cigarettes were not a gateway into smoking.

“Why would a person of sound mind use a safer, better tasting, cheaper experience first and then move to a more dangerous, more pungent and more expensive method?,” she said.

“I would be extremely surprised if someone tried vaping and then tried smoking and decided smoking was more appealing.”

Long-time smoker Brad Campbell said he hoped e-cigarettes would finally help him kick his four-year habit.

“I really want to make the change to vaping [e-cigarettes] because I have heard it is healthier and cheaper. I want to not only quit smoking but also stop vaping eventually,” Campbell said.

The WA Department of Health said e-cigarettes have not been assessed or approved by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration as a safe and effective aid to quit smoking.