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The complex legality of vaping

Since 2004, the popularity of E-cigarettes have increased exponentially

Since 2004, the popularity of E-cigarettes have increased exponentially

Oliver Pomeroy

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As a subculture and an activity, vaping has grown exponentially over the past five years, attracting more people to the recreational activity.

There are meet-ups that are organised in online messaging boards, and conventions held to bring the consumer and the producer closer together.

There are even competitions held to see who can do the most tricks with the cloud of smoke/steam the vaporiser releases.

A vaporiser may refer to a variety of products. A vape could refer to a vape pen, a clearomiser, a cartomiser, tanks, rebuildable drip atomisers (RDAs), and many other variations. Most of these are also fully customisable, leading to a hobbyist element to their use.

These devices were introduced in 2004 as a means to quit smoking. The E-cigarette would provide a small dose of nicotine, but without the tar that causes lung cancer.

Professor Michael Russell, who passed away in 2009, was a key researcher in a study that showed that cigarette addiction was a form of drug addiction. He said: “People smoke for the nicotine, but they die of the cancer.”

Not only are E-cigarettes helpful for those trying to quit smoking, but they are also part of a larger subculture of recreational users. The complex legality in Western Australia is therefore quite confusing.

To buy a vaporiser, one must order it online, as the State Government prohibits its sale in storefronts. Furthermore, only a certain amount of nicotine can be imported over a twelve-month period, and the state recommends avoiding it all together. The WA Government lists nicotine as a poison, and its import is heavily regulated. However this is the only limitation on vapes in the state, and their use is legal in most public places.

E-cigarettes are relatively new devices and the research is still being done on their long term effect on the body of users. There are reports of vape pens exploding, and possible harmful chemicals being used in the vaporising process.

The Western Australian Education and Health Standing Committee led a review in June that found that the ban on the sale of e-cigarettes was ultimately more harmful than not banning them, as imports may be faulty or contain unknown substances.

Janine Freeman, the chair of the committee, said: “So long as it remains illegal to supply e-cigarette products, manufacturing quality and the safety of products will remain an issue of concern.”

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The complex legality of vaping