The e-cigarette industry has taken the community by storm as an alternative for smokers trying to quit the habit.
But manufacturers and vendors are up in arms over strict laws they say are costing local businesses and are pushing for nicotine vaping.
Jay Karanouh owns the Sydney store House of Vape and says for every year they don’t sell nicotine in their vape liquid, they and other businesses lose hundreds of thousands of dollars.
It is illegal to sell nicotine products not approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration – the regulatory body for therapeutic goods – in Australia.
Even though none of his products contain nicotine, Karanouh says he is made to feel he is part of something sinister.
“Especially if you have customers in the shop and the health department walks in, the customer feels like they are part of something ‘dodgy’,” he said.
Selling e-cigarettes and the liquid inside them is legal. But under Australian law, stores selling the products are governed by the same laws on cigarette sales.
Despite the strict laws, Karanouh’s business is booming. Business has doubled for every one of the years House of Vape has been in operation.
Given vaping and the liquid inside doesn’t contain nicotine, vaping industry advocates say e-cigarettes in Australia should be allowed to contain nicotine to make the process easier for people trying to quit smoking.
“If the transition doesn’t make it easy for the person trying to quit, they will just fall back into that same little spiral, where they try to quit but it’s a little bit too difficult for them, so it’s easier to just go buy a packet of cigarettes,” says Karanouh.
“If you look at it on one side, e-cigarettes are double as good to reduce smoking,” says Dr David Chapman, a physiologist with expertise in airways diseases from the Woolcock Institute.
“However, it’s still only 18 per cent. You have to remember that 18 per cent is still really low,” Chapman said.
The Therapeutic Goods Association says it’s reluctant to legalise nicotine vaping until the numbers firm up.
It’s waiting on science to prove vaping helps stop smoking, more than it encourages a potentially toxic habit.
Watch the video for the full story by Your Money reporter Camille Bianchi.