Western Australia bans e-cigs following a legal case

Western Australia bans e-cigs following a legal case

The popularity of e-cigs has increased dramatically over the past few months. Mostly regarded as a tool for helping users kick their smoking habit, the use of electronic cigarettes has also been advertized by glam celebrities like Lindsay Lohan, Leonardo Di Caprio, or Cara Delevingne. Recently, the devices have been applauded for their success in helping tobacco users cut down on the number of daily cigarettes and eventually stop smoking but for people in Western Australia, it is now against the low to purchase these advanced nicotine delivery devices.

In a lawsuit against e-cigarette seller ‘Heavenly Vapours’, the Australian Supreme Court ruled the company commercialized a product designed to resemble an analog cigarette, which was in contradiction with the Tobacco Products Control Act enforced back in 2006. The court discovered that the e-cigarettes marketed by the company look like an ordinary cigarette, are shaped like a cigarette and the steam or vapour looks exactly like smoke, and therefore are in breach of the law.

The case started back in 2011 when the Western Australian Health Department came with three black SUVs at Vincent Van Heerden's house, who developed a company called ‘Heavenly Vapours’. Following the search, nine ecigarette atomizers and 60 packs of electronic cigarettes were confiscated by the Health Department.

Later the charges were rejected in the Magistrates but taken into consideration by the Supreme Court after an appeal. As an effect of the new law, anyone of legal age can buy a pack of tobacco cigarettes; however, it is now prohibited for them to buy the battery operated nicotine deliver system that contains far less carcinogens, no ash or tar, and is also a tool used for smoking cessation. ‘One can only imagine that the other states may now try to follow suit,’ Van Heerden says.

To fight off the ban, Van Heerden started a crowd funding to finance future legal response to free ecigs from these absurd legal constraints. ‘We can and will defend our right to make informed choices and to choose, where possible, a less harmful alternative,’ he added.

Backing up Van Heerden is professor Roger Magnusson, from the Sydney University, who said that the Supreme Court's ruling has definite consequences for electronic cigarette vendors in other states. He believes it is ‘breathlessly naïve to assume e-cigs will function only or mainly as a quitting device for smokers. US research suggests these products are a gateway to smoking as often as a gateway from smoking,’ ‘If they are such a great quit smoking device, they might nevertheless be made available to smokers on prescription’.

Nicotine is Schedule 2 drug in Australia, which means it can only be purchased through pharmacies. Many Australians order nicotine cartridges for their e-cigarettes online from neighboring New Zealand. Until now, the electronic cigarette devices themselves have been freely available sale in Australia.

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