Australian citizens want vaping to be legalized despite its government’s refusal, new research shows.
Ex smokers in the country want e-cigarettes to be made available in shops, according to a recent poll, since many are importing e-cigarettes over the internet instead.
Experts say the trend could have major health implications for consumers buying their vape products from little-known merchants overseas and suggest it would be better for the nation’s health to buy less harmful products from local stores.
The Australian Retail Association poll, conducted by the Crosby Textor Group, shows 61 per cent of 1,200 adults backed a move towards legalizing e-cigarettes and vapes.
ARA executive director Russell Zimmerman has now called on the government to follow the lead of the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand by opening up the market.
He said in a statement this week: “More and more Australians are buying personal vaporisers with nicotine online from overseas, simply because they can’t buy them locally.
“The government needs to act so that responsible local retailers can compete on a level playing field and sell less harmful products for Australians trying to change their habits.”
The Cancer Council said it would make a decision on its stance on e-cigarettes after considering the results of on-going reviews of vaping and therapeutic nicotine replacement therapies by government and independent medical bodies.
Tobacco issues committee chair Paul Grogan told Australia’s Associated Press: “Public health policy decisions aren’t based on opinion polls…Cancer Council supports the National Health and Medical Research Council’s on-going independent review of the risks and potential benefits of e-cigarettes and the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s role in independently assessing any therapeutic benefit.”
The Cancer Council and Quit Victoria both agree the short and long-term impacts of using e-cigarettes, which simulate smoking without burning harmful tobacco, while unknown, need to be properly investigated.
The adults surveyed, however, are more convinced they are a less dangerous alternative to traditional tobacco cigarettes, with almost half believing vaporizers are safer.
Most ARA respondents (53 per cent) were also unaware or unsure of the existing law banning the sale and purchase of e-cigarettes.
The use of vapes increased across all age groups between 2013 and 2016, with 31 per cent of smokers trying them at least once, the 2016 National Drug Strategy Household Survey shows.
Meanwhile, Public Health England revealed in a report earlier this year that vaping is 95 per cent safer than smoking cigarettes.