Vic to ban e-cig display in vape shops

Displaying e-cigarette products in vape stores will be illegal under laws being considered by the Victorian Government. This unpublicised change was uncovered during an investigation by Not Smoking Australia into the detail of the Tobacco Amendment Bill 2016.

Local Vape stores in Melbourne were surprised to hear that the Bill would make it illegal for them to display e-liquids, e-cigarettes, mods, tanks, coils or any other item falling under the new definition of ‘e-cigarette product’.

The Bill would also ban vape stores from showing e-cigarette products to customers who are unsure of what they want, or even mentioning the name of a brand to them.

Vape Stores are at Front Line of Tobacco Harm Reduction

The Royal College of Physicians estimates vaping to be at least 95% safer than smoking and has called for e-cigarettes to be promoted widely as a substitute for smoking.

Vape stores provide advice to smokers wishing to switch to a vastly safer alternative. They explain technology that can be bewildering to newcomers, much like Genius Bar experts at Apple stores. More importantly, they’re at the front line of tobacco harm reduction.

Ban on Good Advice

The Victorian Government’s plan to treat e-cigarettes the same as tobacco would put store staff at risk of prosecution for helping customers decide what products best suit their needs.

The following section from the Victorian Health Department’s “Tobacco Retailer Guide” would apply to e-cigarette products.

How can Victoria possibly make this illegal?

By updating the definition of ‘tobacco advertisement’ to include e-cigarettes, their display to customers who have not specifically requested them by name is considered a ‘tobacco or e-cigarette advertisement’.

Click here to view definition of ‘TOBACCO OR E-CIGARETTE ADVERTISEMENT’

The critical part of the one page definition is:

a tobacco or e-cigarette advertisement is any writing, still or moving picture, sign, symbol or other visual image, or any audible message…

‘Audible message’ includes saying “Have you seen the Nautilus Aspire Mini” is also considered an advertisement.

Smokers Already Know How to Buy Cigarettes

E-cigarettes provide a far safer alternative for people who cannot or will not quit smoking. Real world experience shows that the vast majority of daily e-cig users fall into this category.

These people do not need assistance and advice in order to continue smoking. Making it harder for them to find e-cigarette products they like will keep more people smoking longer.

Treating e-cigarettes the same as tobacco protects tobacco sales against competition from a disruptive technology.

More Reasonable Regulation

Vape stores are selling legal products to adults who have a right to make informed decisions about what they put into their own bodies.

The deadly alternative to e-cigarettes is tobacco, which is almost universally available in supermarkets, petrol stations, newsagents, pubs, clubs. The Royal College of Physicians argue that promotion encouraging smokers to switch would have a public health benefit.

The Victorian Government appears to be following advice from local health charities such as Cancer Council, Heart Foundation and Quit Victoria who are still championing prohibition based on alarmist fears discredited by the RCP.

The Government claims these measures are designed to protect young people:

The government is taking a precautionary response, by regulating e-cigarettes in the same way as tobacco products. This will reduce potential harms that may arise from young people having access to these devices, and will limit young people’s exposure to associated marketing.
- Second Reading Speech, Tobacco Amendment Bill 2016

Even if our lawmakers decide that children must not see or hear about e-cigarette products where they are sold, this could still be achieved in a more reasonable way: making vape stores adults only.

Adult stores are not required to hide their products from customers or refrain from discussing them. Children aren’t allowed into the stores.

Contact your State MP

This aspect of the Bill will keep smokers from switching to a safer alternative.

Laws take years to remove. We need to call on our elected MPs to amend the Bill before it is passed in August 2016.

Please take the time to contact your representative in the Legislative Council.