Australian tobacco treatment and public health expert Dr. Colin Mendelsohn highlights that Western Australia's (WA) stance on vaping will actually have the opposite of the intended effect.
Since October, it has been illegal for retailers in Australia to sell vaping products without a doctor’s prescription. Despite this national ban, vaping is said to be increasingly common especially among young people, and the products are reportedly still easy to purchase. In fact WA Health has sent letters to over 3,000 retailers warning them about the recent restrictions, and pointing out that they could face fines penalties of up to $80,000 for violating the new law.
WA Health spokesman Dr. Michael Lindsay said that the department has seized over 16,000 illegal nicotine vapes in over three years, adding that the National Drug Strategy Household Survey showed a 23% increase in vapers.
Current regulations fail smokers trying to quit
Meanwhile tobacco treatment specialist and public health expert Dr. Colin Mendelsohn said that this strategy is misguided as it affects current adult smokers and ex-smokers who have successfully quit smoking via vaping, whilst leaving the black-market free to expand and target minors. Moreover, everyone seems to be ignoring the fact that regular cigarettes remain readily available at convenience stores, tobacconists, petrol stations and corner shops.
“There is no doubt that youth vaping is on the rise and this needs to be addressed. However destroying the legal vaping market this is not the solution and is bound to fail. Vape stores do not sell these illegal products, or any products containing nicotine. Instead, they sell refillable vaping devices, and accessories to adult smokers and former smokers to help them quit and avoid relapse to deadly smoking,” explained Mendelsohn.
Similarly Dr. Alex Wodak from the Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association, has recently said that current local vape regulations are not relative to risk. “We know that the overwhelming majority of people who vape in Australia are current smokers, or even more so, former smokers, and they’re doing it to reduce the harm from smoking.”
“Vaping is regulated much more tightly, much more restricted than cigarettes, and if we were going to do anything, we should be restricting cigarettes much more than we’re restricting vaping.”