By Rhys Prka
Even as some health experts claim e-cigarettes, or vapes, are a safe alternative to conventional smoking, it is illegal to sell them in Western Australia.
Dr Colin Mendelsohn is a tobacco treatment specialist who believes vaping should be legalised as it can help those who are addicted to smoking.
“We think there are approximately 500,000 Australian smokers who are currently vaping,” he said.
“Most experts have accepted that the risk from vaping is no more than 5% that of smoking.”
While he says vapour is not harmless and that there are potential risks, there has been no short-term or serious adverse effects found.
“I think the evidence is there, I think we need to really make decisions based on the evidence not based on politics or ideology or moral judgements,” Dr Mendelsohn said.
Vape users like Callum McPherson, 20, and Alex Kwas, 20, both believe vaping should be legalised.
“The catalysing moment was the amount of money I was spending on cigarettes.
“[I Have] been vaping for four to five months and haven’t bought a packet [of cigarettes] yet,” Mr McPherson said.
For Mr Kwas, the lower health risks and lack of odour are reasons he uses a vape.
Western Australia is one of the strictest states in terms of laws regulating the use and sale of e-cigarettes.
In Western Australia it is illegal to sell or supply e-cigarettes or vapes under the Tobacco Products Control Act 2006 and the Poisons Act 1964.
Although e-cigarettes can still be imported from other states, they cannot be bought in WA.
The Supreme Court hearing of Vincent van Heerden earlier this year decided that the sale of e-cigarettes in WA was illegal as they breached the Tobacco Control Act which prohibits any products that look similar to a cigarette, even if the product has no nicotine.