Sneaky way Aussies are getting around new vaping rules
With just over a week before the Federal Government's likely ban on the importation of vaping liquids, Australians are stockpiling the nicotine product.
All states and territories have banned the sale of the controversial e-cigarettes and nicotine-containing refills but smokers can, for now, get their hands on the product through overseas suppliers.
The new regulation imposed on importing the liquid is expected to be signed off by the Governor-General on July 1 and smokers are gearing up for tighter restrictions.
Since the announcement late last week, New Zealand's largest e-cigarettes retailer, Shosha, has recorded a sales jump of 130 per cent to Australian consumers.
This spike in orders includes new customers who typically buy from other overseas destinations who were caught off guard by the announcement from the government and are concerned their usual orders wouldn't arrive before next Wednesday.
Shosha's operations manager Nabhik Gupta said the blanket ban from the Morrison Government was shortsighted, claiming the use of vaping can be used to minimise the toxic risks of traditional cigarettes.
"New Zealand has a lower rate of smoking than Australia and also has a different viewpoint to vaping when it comes to legislation that aims to lower combustible cigarette smoking," he said.
Mr Gupta says the retailer has a strict rule of only selling its vaping liquids to those trying to quit smoking traditional cigarettes.
"Shosha's position is in line with the New Zealand Government's view that vaping is an ideal way to quit cigarettes by getting nicotine without inhaling many toxin chemicals that come from burning tobacco," he said.
"As the government's website says: 'You get to stay social, spend less, and once you've quit smoking you'll feel better for it."
Britain's National Health Service recommends the combination of smoking liquid nicotine with face-to-face support for those attempting to shake the dangerous habit.
"E-cigarettes aren't completely risk free but they carry a small fraction of the risk of cigarettes," the organisation states.
But some medical experts say vaping can serve as an avenue to attract people to smoking for the first time.
The planned Australian ban will remain in place for 12 months to allow for public consultation on the regulation of nicotine products by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA).
The TGA is considering an amendment to the Poisons Standard which would mean vaporiser nicotine products would require a valid prescription. A final decision is expected to be announced early in 2021.
Under the ban, Australians would only be required to obtain a doctor's prescription to purchase vaping products.
They would get their e-cigarettes or refills via a permission granted by the health department to a doctor or medical supplier who would be able to import the goods using a courier service or by cargo service.
The goods would not be able to be imported by individuals through international mail.
The move has been welcomed by the Australian Medical Association (AMA).
"Nicotine is a highly addictive substance and there is no level of tobacco use which is safe," AMA vice president Dr Chris Zappala said.
He said e-cigarettes and vaping were not a healthy alternative to smoking.
Speaking to ABC Perth, Emeritus Professor at Sydney University's School of Public Health Simon Chapman said e-cigarettes were far from a healthy alternative.
"We know a typical vaper will pull into their lungs over 120 times a day, and not just nicotine - flavouring agents, fine metal particles that have sloughed off form the coil.
"It's a big question whether we will see consequences down the track."
Some users of e-cigarette have said that banning the implements and liquid nicotine could send them back to smoking standard cigarettes. But Prof Chapman said these smokers could approach their GPs.
"I can't see any downsides to it. I think that is entirely consistent with the way in which we all access drugs."
But he pointed to Canada where the use of e-cigarettes had spread among teenagers since their use was liberalised as a warning of what could have happened in Australia.
Originally published as New item Aussies are stockpiling