Leading Victorian health groups have welcomed the Victorian Government’s move to tighten controls around electronic cigarettes, including banning sales to minors and preventing their use in smokefree areas.
Quit Victoria Director Dr Sarah White said the laws would stop children from being able to buy e-cigarettes with flavours such as toffee or strawberry.
“We don’t want to see a new generation take up smoking, so preventing the sale of non-nicotine e-cigarettes to Victorian children is a welcome step,” Dr White said.
“Recent testing of liquids from e-cigarettes that were supposedly nicotine-free found that 70% were labelled incorrectly and did, in fact, have nicotine in them.
“Nicotine is an addictive poison that has been shown to damage the development of adolescent brains.
“In the US, where there are no restrictions on sales of e-cigarettes, there has been a recent explosion in e-cigarette use by high school students.”
Cancer Council Victoria chief executive Todd Harper said ensuring that e-cigarettes were not used in smokefree areas such as workplaces and hospitals would be welcomed by most Victorians.
“People tell us they don’t like being exposed to secondhand smoke or vapour, so irrespective of potential harms I think not being forced to breathe in someone else’s exhaled vapour will be welcomed,” Mr Harper said.
Mr Harper said bans on advertising and promotion of e-cigarettes at point of sale were also a welcome step.
“Many of the advertisements for e-cigarettes are like the tobacco ads of old, promoting vaping as glamorous or cool. With flavours like strawberry and bubblegum, it’s hard to believe that children aren’t being targeted with some of this marketing,” Mr Harper said.
While the health groups welcomed the ban on e-cigarettes sales to children, they are concerned the devices will still be available for purchase by adults in Victoria.
Heart Foundation director of cardiovascular health programs Kellie-Ann Jolly said consumer safety is a real concern for e-cigarettes, which are battery-operated devices that heat liquid to create a vapour the user inhales.
“It’s important to note that no consumer standards apply to e-cigarettes. There have been concerning cases reported overseas where e-cigarettes have exploded in users’ faces, causing serious injuries.”
The National Health and Medical Research Council, Australian Medical Association, Cancer Council Australia and Heart Foundation have all called for e-cigarettes to be completely banned.
The groups’ joint position is that any e-cigarette should be approved by Australia’s regulatory authority, the Therapeutic Goods Administration, if there is sufficient evidence for it to be approved as a cessation aid.