Cigarette smokers trying to quit with the help of an e-cig could face a $550 fine.
A new anti e-cigarette law to be introduced in New South Wales in July will ban anyone from using the electronic device in any public place.
Anyone caught breaking the law by police could be handed the hefty fine. Similar laws regarding tobacco smoking were put into place across the state on July 1.
Critics of the law have claimed it could derail smokers trying to kick the habit by supplementing tobacco with an e-cig.
E-cig users could be forced back into smoking areas, where they are at a higher risk of relapsing.
However, the Cancer Council of NSW has championed the new laws, citing the potential for ‘passive vape’ effects – despite international studies showing otherwise.
A study by Public Health England concluded that vaping poses a much smaller risk than tobacco and giving up tobacco completely for a vapor alternative carried with it ‘substantial health benefits’.
The study also found that to up to 20,000 smokers quit tobacco after turning to e-cigarettes and that most people (below 10 per cent) don’t realise the health risks posed by tobacco smoke are not from nicotine.
Despite such results, Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt remains an ardent crusader against relaxing any vaping laws, stating it would never happen ‘on his watch’.
‘Despite claims to the contrary, the jury is still out on the alleged benefits of e-cigarettes. The medical advice from Australian authorities is we need to err on the side of caution,’ he said.
Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association chairman, Dr Colin Mendelsohn, told news.com.au that a number of international experts had concluded there were no health risks posed by ‘passive vaping to bystanders’.
‘A recent study demonstrates that e-cig vapour consists of liquid droplets that evaporate within seconds after exhaling. Smoke particles linger for 30 to 45 minutes, the views of Australian medical organisations conflict with those from overseas, in particular the UK,’ he said.
Director for Health Improvement at PHE, John Newton, who was part of the PHE study, said the risks posed by e-cigarettes were almost non-existent in comparison to tobacco.
‘Our new review reinforces the finding that vaping is a fraction of the risk of smoking, at least 95 per cent less harmful, and of negligible risk to bystanders. Yet over half of smokers either falsely believe that vaping is as harmful as smoking or just don’t know,’ he said.
‘It would be tragic if thousands of smokers who could quit with the help of an e-cigarette are being put off due to false fears about their safety.’
Former cigarette addict and board member of the New Nicotine Alliance Australia, Annette Huppatz, is against the new law forcing vapers out of public areas and said she believes it will have a negative impact.
The New Nicotine Alliance Australia is an avid advocate for vaping in place of traditional tobacco cigarettes, news.com.au reported.
She said she found vaping afforded her a new sense of freedom, while still avoiding smoking hot spots.
She said she started vaping as a novelty but with time it replaced tobacco all together and offered a healthier alternative.
‘Just because I smoked for 30-plus years doesn’t mean I want to be back among the smokers, when you’re new to vaping, the greatest moments of weakness come when you’re surrounded by smokers,’ she said.
She compared the new law akin to holding an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in the back room of a pub.