THE campaign manager for a national pro-vaping lobby group is confident vaping nicotine legally will become a reality in the near future.
Legalise Vaping Australia campaign manager Brian Marlow and fellow supporters took to the streets of Fremantle this week for a flash mob protest against “convoluted” laws they say are increasingly at odds with the rest of the world.
“It will happen, it’s just a question of how,” Mr Marlow said of their push.
He is also in WA to give evidence at a “nanny state” inquiry being chaired by Liberal Democrat MLC Aaron Stonehouse, which is investigating whether Sandgropers are being over-governed.
It is looking into vaping, bicycle helmet laws and car modifications.
Mr Marlow says vaping is twice as effective in helping smokers quit compared to patches and gum, and even more so when used in combination with them.
He acknowledges vaping nicotine is still addictive, but says there’s very little evidence of people using it as a gateway into smoking; those who did were from a demographic likely to smoke anyway.
But he says health authorities seem blinded by the threat to this small group and can’t see the benefits to the 92 per cent of smokers who’ve admitted they’d like to kick the habit.
Mr Marlow says Australians are getting around state laws by importing vaping products from unregulated overseas markets, potentially putting themselves at risk.
He believes this was behind the death of a Victorian toddler last month, as it drank nicotine from a vaping bottle he doubts had a child safety cap.
Part of the problem comes down to a clash between federal and state laws; it’s not illegal to import three months’ worth of nicotine for personal use under national Therapeutic Goods Administration rules, meaning Border Force officials wave it through. But once it reaches the recipient, they’ll be breaching state laws. In the ACT that can mean up to two years in prison, or in Western Australia a $45,000 fine.
Mr Marlow says his campaign takes no donations from big tobacco companies, which have been increasingly trying to move into the vaping area. He believes their motives are anathema to local users and their products are almost impossible to find in Aussie vaping shops.
His group’s campaign has gained some support, with both the state and federal Liberal parties backing vaping, though Mr Marlow says they’ve not been able to turn around federal health minister Greg Hunt.
The minister is a staunch opponent, replying to questions about legalised vaping with the response “Not on my watch”, but under pressure from his party colleagues has agreed to commission research into potential health benefits.
by SALLY MATHWIN
and STEVE GRANT