Queensland Health continues its vendetta against vapers
Posted on January 20, 2020
Queensland Health has continued its vindictive and ideological war on vaping by fining a vape shop for breaching advertising and display rules. Vape Central at Capalaba willfully exposed consenting adults to full view of life-threatening cotton wool and tweezers.
Specifically, the shop displayed some vaping accessories: drip tips, coils, cotton wool, tweezers and funnels. Drip tips are the small tips of the mouthpieces of vaporisers. The advertising breach was for having a single brand logo sticker on the outside of the premises.
That sounds fair as retailers should follow the law, no matter how unreasonable. However, when the facts are explored in more detail, the story becomes sordid and the final ruling defies common sense and fair play.
While the Queensland Department of Health may have the best of intentions, the impact of their action can only be to protect cigarette companies.
The rest of the story
The Health Department inspector visited the store in December 2018 and asked for the changes to be made. The products were immediately concealed, the logo was removed, new cupboards were installed and Qld Health was notified by email. When the inspector visited 6 weeks later, the store was fully compliant.
- In spite of prompt compliance, the shop received a $1,000 fine over 6 months later.
- The outside of the store is completely blacked out with a sign advising that entry is only allowed for adults over 18 years. Only consenting adults are allowed admission.
- Accessories to smoking (lighters, ashtrays etc) are freely displayed in tobacconists, however accessories to vaping are not permitted to be displayed in vape shops.
- Cotton wool, tweezers and funnels can be displayed freely in any other retail outlet.
- Vape shops often report getting inconsistent advice from Health Departments and inspectors and are often confused about what is and is not allowed. The shop took the case to court to find out ‘where the line is drawn in determining what is and what is not permissible for display’. In the court, Queensland Health asked for an increase in the fine to $38,000, which was reduced by the judge to $4,500.
- This was the shop’s first and so far only offence. They immediately complied with the requirements, but were still fined.
Queensland Health has ‘form’
Queensland Health is clearly engaged in a vendetta against vaping. This is disappointing as Queensland has the second highest state smoking rate in Australia and is having little success in reducing smoking rates.
According to the report of the Chief Health Officer of Queensland, in 2018, 16% of adult Queenslanders smoked. Two in three Queenslander smokers are likely to die of a smoking-related disease.
In 2016, the prevalence of smoking for Queensland adults was 19% higher than the national average
Smoking rates in the most disadvantaged areas were more than double (2.4 times) those in advantaged areas in 2018 (17% compared with 6.8%) and 45% of Indigenous Queenslanders smoked
On the other hand, Vape Central claims it has helped over 5,000 Queenslanders quit smoking.
In the parallel universe of Queensland, rather than supporting this lifesaving service, the government is trying to close it down. Perhaps it is threatened by the competition’s success. The vaping industry appears to be more effective than traditional tobacco control strategies.
Queensland Health has a long and sad record of misleading the public on vaping. ATHRA has previously exposed and documented several serious concerns:
- In 2018, Queensland Health claimed that it was illegal to import and use nicotine from overseas to stop smoking. After several letters from ATHRA, it backed down and admitted that it was wrong.
- It also falsely ruled that Queenslanders could not import nicotine from Australian compounding pharmacies and threatened fines of $9,000 for offender. After a challenge by ATHRA, Qld Health admitted its previous advice was not correct and that compounded nicotine is actually legal in Queensland.
- In 2019, Queensland Health updated its online information about vaping which drastically misrepresented the science on vaping and the risks involved. Many of its claims omit important information or are fundamentally untrue.
Queenslander smokers who are unable to quit deserve better than this.
Posted by Colin Mendelsohn, firstname.lastname@example.org