Coffs Harbour's Luke Graham runs Cloud City Coffee and Vape.
Coffs Harbour's Luke Graham runs Cloud City Coffee and Vape.

Fears vape laws will get us back on the smokes

A Coffs Coast vape shop owner fears tightening vaping regulations could push more people back to smoking cigarettes, highlighting a glaring inconsistency in government strategy.

"You are going to have to go to a doctor for a prescription, a pharmacy for liquid nicotine and come see me for a device. A smoker on that same trip would pass 20 points of sale for their tobacco," Luke Graham said.

Mr Graham has been vaping for around four years, and like most people, was drawn into it from a desire to quit smoking cigarettes.

After interest in his new past time grew among friends, he began an online business selling vape products before opening Cloud City Vape Cafe in the Coffs Harbour CBD.

This week the Therapeutic Goods Administration announced its decision to ban the importation of nicotine for the use in vaporisers, or e-cigarettes, without a doctor's prescription from October 2021.

It is already illegal to sell vape liquids containing nicotine in Australia and current users traditionally import nicotine themselves, something which could attract a $220,000 fine from next year.

Picture: Che Chorley
Picture: Che Chorley

When the time, money and effort to get a nicotine vaping product under the new system was added up, Mr Graham said the regulations could have the unwanted effect of pushing more people back into smoking cigarettes.

If the vaping industry has its own "fully regulated" system independent of the tobacco industry Mr Graham said vape shops could play a role in ensuring people could vape safely and quit smoking.

"If vapers feel like they are no better off financially to swap the vaping (for cigarettes), they will go back to cigarettes," he said.

Describing its reasons for the decision to ban nicotine imports, the TGA noted there was still a lot more research to be done to understand their potential health effects and their effectiveness as a smoking cessation aid, noting it was "still contested".

"It is my firm view that the use of nicotine e-cigarettes should be considered in the context of a smoking cessation tool for short-term use and under medical supervision," the report stated.

"While the long-term effects of e-cigarette use are still unclear, there is emerging evidence for long-term adverse health effects on the respiratory and cardiovascular system."