I recently met with an old friend who’s been living in Australia for several years and who is a vaper. Though I had known that laws around vaping were less than ideal over the ditch, this meeting really drove home how messy and unfortunate their vaping laws are.
Vaping is difficult in Australia. Whether you just want to stop smoking, or you’re running a vape store, there are far more hoops to jump through than over here in New Zealand.
The most restrictive aspect of these laws is the nationwide ban on the sale of nicotine-containing E-liquids and E-cigs. Over the ditch, you have to obtain a prescription for nicotine E-liquid from a doctor.
In Queensland, it is straight up illegal to possess E-cigs containing nicotine, in any place, public or personal. In the other states, though you can possess and use E-liquid that contains nicotine, it is illegal to buy it.
As you can imagine, these seemingly jumbled restrictions make it very hard for the vape industry in Australia, and even more so for those trying to get off cigarettes using a vapouriser.
One of the main reasons that laws have been so slow to change is the continuous stream of donations Big Tobacco makes to Australian political parties. If we total the donations made to various parties from Philip Morris Limited over the last 20 years, it comes out to just over two million dollars. A similar number (just over two million) was donated by British American Tobacco Australia Limited over the same time period.
With that information alone, it doesn’t take a politics major to see why vaping laws in Australia are so messy. It’s clear that there’s more at work when the safest alternative for a product that kills 2 in 3 users is almost completely outlawed in one state, and frustrating to obtain in all other states. The Health minister himself stated that "It's not going to be happening on my watch as far as I'm concerned," and went on to display his total ineptitude in the field of health, saying that "There is clear evidence that it's likely to lead to the uptake of cigarette smoking,” despite the clear evidence to the contrary, and the fact that ‘Gateway Theory’ has been more or less disproven. (A story referencing a study by researchers from University of Stirling and Public Health England debunking Gateway Theory)
Obviously, the New Zealanders reading this can’t do much for their fellows in Oz, but what we can definitely do is make some noise and spread the knowledge.
As vapers, if we’re opposed by a governing body, like the vapers of Australia are, our best course of action is advocacy. Rep the culture - be courteous, supportive and helpful. Rep the benefits, share the articles, and open the conversations. In Australia, 15,000 people die from smoking-related causes each year. Isn’t that worth advocating against? All that life which is stolen from us each year, just because a few corporations (that supply the death) are terrified of change and collapse.
If you’re in Australia, please contact your local MPs. You can email them, or call their office. Make it clear that if they want your vote, they need to support vaping. Make your voices heard.
If you want a nice, concise, list of E-cig laws in AUS by state, check this out.
If you want to see the document that contains the donations I mentioned, check that here.