It’s hard to run an honest business when the government and its agencies won’t leave you alone.
Since the advent of vaping technology 7 or so years ago, the number of vape shops in Australia has exploded, creating a new and constantly innovating industry that provides tobacco smokers with a non-carcinogenic, non-toxic alternative, employing hundreds of workers in the process.
Instead of supporting or commending this new industry, Australian governments and agencies like the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) have launched unprecedented attacks. South Australia is currently home to the most vape shops in the country but that hasn’t stopped the government from contemplating harsh and prohibitive laws which could hit both online stores as well as physical ones. The TGA’s unscientific and perplexing interim decision against legalising nicotine e-liquids doesn’t do much for business confidence either. Vape vendors are often forced to spend time and resources educating customers about how to blend their non-nicotine solutions with nicotine – the functional ingredient that allows smokers to satiate their cravings while eliminating their exposure to carcinogenic toxins. This would be a further considerable drain on any business.
It comes as no surprise then that vape vendors have begun moving to where governments favour a pragmatic pro-business approach - overseas. New Zealand recently acted on extensive scientific research which has led to 40 peak independent public health bodies in the UK recommending that smokers be encouraged to switch to vaping as a smoking cessation aid, by legalising these liquids. In doing so, they’ve also made it a lot easier for Australians to import the solutions.
Vapoureyes was a South Australia-based vendor that sold non-nicotine based solutions online and at a physical store. Recently, they’ve shifted their business to New Zealand from where export nicotine and non-nicotine solutions to Australia. Vendors like Vapoureyes moving abroad mean that Australia loses out on both jobs as well as tax revenue which now flows out of the country to the land of the long, white cloud and other nations that have acted on common sense. This means that our anti-vape laws have not just proven foolish, but also do not even do the very thing they were intended to do.
But any concerns the government might have about consumers getting around the anti-vape laws by importing products from New Zealand barely scratch the iceberg’s tip. Potentially deadly 99% concentrate nicotine solutions can be ordered from China even now and are relatively tempting for consumers when safe, regulated and tested solutions at moderate concentration are not available here thanks to our laws.
It’s time that government agencies acted to legalise life-saving nicotine technology, a move that would benefit not only the health of smokers but businesses, workers and the economy too.
Satyajeet Marar is a Director of THRNow and MyChoice Australia