VAPING controls in Western Australia are so bizarre users have to travel between stores to buy components and risk $45,000 fines to get the nicotine hit they could legally buy with a packet of smokes.
The part-owner of a Fremantle store selling the increasingly popular e-cigarettes has called for an overhaul of the regulations, saying the state’s draconian position is increasingly out of kilter with the rest of the world.
Pablo Nicogossian recently opened Wet Wicks in Adelaide Street and says the majority of his customers are flouting the law by smuggling in cartridges of nicotine when they travel or ordering them online, because WA’s laws prevent him selling any.
Mr Nicogossian used to smoke more than two packets of cigarettes a day and credits vaping with helping him to kick the habit, and says the government’s hardline approach means others don’t have the same opportunity.
“I did start with eight milligrams per millilitre, the went down bit by bit until six/seven months later I totally quit,” Mr Nicogossian says.
These days he only puffs on e-juices and e-liquids, which are usually a blend of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine and various flavourings put through a diffuser.
But he says one of the most bizarre aspects of the regulation is that he can’t sell both the e-juices and the “mods” that help vaporise them – the law requires them to be sold in different stores.
Some suppliers have found a loophole, taking out a neighbouring shop and creating a new company with a separate ABN, but Mr Nicogossian says they don’t have that option in Fremantle.
His call for legalising the sale of vaping nicotine products has been backed by South Metro MLC Aaron Stonehouse, who visited the store earlier this week.
The Liberal Democrat is a spokesperson for Legalise Vaping Australia and is putting together a petition calling for change.
“Most people don’t realise that vaping is effectively illegal,” Mr Stonehouse said.
“The whole system is a mess and devoid of common sense.
“Vaping is 95 per cent less harmful than smoking.
“So, if smoking is legal, then it stands to reason that vaping should be as well.”
But the Australian Council on Smoking and Health disagrees, with WA president Maurice Swanson warning the push for legalisation was being driven by big tobacco companies. He says claims that vaping is safer than cigarettes is dubious and is concerned vaping could be a gateway habit leading to smoking.
by STEVE GRANT