Nicotine e-cigarettes a 'solution' to help smokers, Bendigo store owner says. But parliament has other ideas

Vape Anarchy owner Alastair Hyde (right) is disappointed at another setback to legalising nicotine in e-cigarettes. Picture: GLENN DANIELS
Vape Anarchy owner Alastair Hyde (right) is disappointed at another setback to legalising nicotine in e-cigarettes. Picture: GLENN DANIELS

WHEN it comes to allowing nicotine in e-cigarettes, Alastair Hyde struggles to understand what the fuss is about.

“We have a solution to help smokers quit – it’s right here,” he said.

“The science is pretty clear that it’s safe.”

Mr Hyde runs Vape Anarchy on Lyttleton Terrace in Bendigo, selling e-cigarettes and accessories. 

He claims many of his customers use them to quit the smokes, but there’s only one thing missing from them – nicotine.

“I think it can be simple to kick a nicotine addiction. It’s the motion of smoking that people are more addicted to, and e-cigarettes provide the answer,” Mr Hyde said.

In Australia, nicotine is classified as a Schedule 7 poison, making it illegal to sell unless it is a licensed medication. The laws are among the strictest in the world.

This week, a senate committee released a report on a proposed vaporised nicotine bill which would remove nicotine e-cigarettes from regulation by the Therapeutic Goods Administration, effectively legalising them.

It recommended the parliament not pass the bill “until further scientific evaluation of the efficacy and safety of e-cigarettes and related products has been undertaken”.

The committee received 67 submissions from medical professionals, preventative disease researchers, pharmaceutical companies, government bodies and public health organisations.

While most supported the deregulation of e-cigarettes, the committee found there was an absence of scientific evidence from around the world.

“The committee holds serious concerns regarding the evidentiary basis supporting the Bill, particularly in relation to the safety of e-cigarettes,” the report reads.

State governments were keen to avoid “normalising” smoking behaviour, believing e-cigarettes could encourage young adults and children to try smoking.

The Public Health Association Australia argued e-cigarettes went against its mantra of “supply reduction, demand reduction and harm reduction”.

The Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation noted that vaporising a liquid was a different, and safer, process than burning organic material.

For Mr Hyde, the committee’s decision was another blow.

“The Australian government will say they don’t know the long-term effects, but how can they say one way or the other if you need to wait 20 years to see these supposed effects?” he said.

“We’re behind the times.”

The bill, brought by Liberal Democratic Senator David Leyonhjelm, is expected to be defeated in the parliament.