Editorial: Vape peddlers must see real consequences

The West Australian
There are 194 vape stores in WA. Worryingly, 88 per cent of these stores are located within 1km of a school. 
Camera IconThere are 194 vape stores in WA. Worryingly, 88 per cent of these stores are located within 1km of a school.  Credit: AAP

They’re illegal, so why is it that e-cigarettes are still so ubiquitous?

Because owners of many smoke stores believe themselves to be above the law.

As of January 1, the importation of disposable vape devices has been illegal under Federal law.

But the smoking outlets which willingly handed over the outlawed devices to The West Australian last week can hardly plead ignorance of the new rules — sale of vapes has been illegal in WA for a decade.

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And yet hand them over they did. Three of the six stores visited by The West supplied vapes when requested, no questions asked.

Apparently, the laws don’t apply to them.

WA Health says its doing what it can to stop vapes being illegally sold in this State — and let’s be clear, any retailer selling the devices in WA is doing so illegally.

“In the past six months, the department has conducted more than 620 vaping-related compliance inspections and seized more than 425,000 nicotine vapes, including interception of a shipment of 40,000 vapes in January,” a department spokesperson said.

But the proliferation of vape stores shows it’s clearly not enough of a deterrent.

There are 194 vape stores in WA. Worryingly, 88 per cent of these stores are located within 1km of a school.

Keeping vapes out of the hands of kids — and the toxic fumes they emit away from their developing lungs and brains — is one of the greatest public health challenges of our time.

The liquids used inside vapes, as well as the vapours they create, can contain heavy metals, volatile compounds and toxic carcinogens. A single vape can equal 50 cigarettes and vapes can contain chemicals also found in weed killer, nail polish remover and bug spray.

While the long-term health impacts are yet to be known, it is clear that short-term effects include nausea, airway irritation, chest pain and heart palpitations. We also know that those who try them are three times more likely to also smoke conventional cigarettes. Don’t be fooled by the colourful packaging and cutesy names — this is no harmless habit.

All of us have a part to play in helping kids and teens make the right decision for their health.

Schools are doing their bit, teaching their students about the sinister side of e-cigarettes.

Parents, siblings and other adults need to model good behaviour, and talk to the children in their lives about the dangers.

And stores have both a moral and legal duty to comply with laws. The fewer vapes there are on the streets, the less likely it is that one will end up in the hands of a child.

So far, authorities have mostly taken a softly-softly approach to non-compliance. Just one WA business has been charged for selling vapes. After pleading guilty, that business was fined just $4000, despite the maximum penalty for the offence being fines up to $225,000. No wonder businesses are continuing to thumb their noses at the law.

Asking businesses nicely to comply isn’t working. It’s past time for some real deterrence.

Responsibility for the editorial comment is taken by WAN Editor-in-Chief Anthony De Ceglie

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