E-Cigarettes: Australian Smoking Laws, Health Research And Whose Selling Them Online

I recently read an article in smh.com.au regarding a court ruling banning not just the sale, but all use of electronic cigarettes (or "e-cigs") in Western Australia. For those who are unaware, e-cigs (or vaporisers) are devices which heat a flavoured liquid turning it into vapour and allowing the user to simulate the effects of smoking by inhaling and exhaling this vapour.

As a non-smoker, I don't have much sympathy for smokers in general. However, after delving into the whole argument for and against e-cigarettes in general, I find there to be certain ironies that exist around the above ruling (one which has been dividing opinions). I'll explain my reasoning in more detail below, but if there are two things surrounding e-cigs that I'm certainly in favour of that would be helping friends and family quit the filthy habit of smoking as well as showing them where to find the best value for money e-cig options online.



There seems to be an ongoing debate on whether or not e-cigarettes have a good or a bad influence on people’s smoking habits. On one side of the fence there are those who look at it as a bit of a "cool gadget", encouraging youngsters to take up smoking. From my investigations online though, it doesn't appear as if any comprehensive e-cigarrette studies have been concluded to date which cover whether people are influenced by them or how their health is affected.

Also, there isn't any conclusive evidence either to confirm whether or not they work any better than other nicotine replacements. And as long as Australia's TGA (Therapeutic Goods Authority) agency doesn't approve e-cigarettes as a cessation aid to stop smoking, they cannot be marketed for that purpose. This topic is scheduled for further discussion though at the World Health Organisation’s meeting on tobacco control, due to take place in Moscow this coming October.   



On one side I tend to agree that the open use of e-cigs may have an effect (to some degree) on influencing a teenager's/non-smoker's attitude towards smoking by encouraging it. However, on the other hand it would also appear as though many people worldwide are claiming that e-cigs are one of the most effective ways to quit.

Also, I find it ironic that anyone aged 18 or older can still walk into a licensed store and buy a packet of traditional cigarettes which contain tar and other known toxins which cause cancer and emphysema. Yet nobody can purchase nicotine laced e-liquids that contain none of the afore mentioned substances. Not to mention WA where not even the nicotine free liquids can be bought in-store.

Thus, at this point in my research I find myself feeling more empathetic towards the use of e-liquids, particularly those that are nicotine free, as a method to help to stop smoking.

Then there's my biggest pet peeve with smokers of having to breath in (and smell like) all that secondary smoke when in their vicinity. The liquid used in e-cigs generally only consists of propylene glycol, vegetable glycerine, distilled water and flavouring. So with it would seem as though the vapour that is expelled eradicates the annoyance and the associated health issues of secondary smoke for non-smokers. Admittedly though, the limited research around the topic suggests that the jury is still out on this one regarding the exact effects of secondary smoke inhalation from these devices.



Nicotine as a substance is classified as a schedule 2 drug in Australia, implying that it can only be sold through pharmacies. This forces e-cig smokers to buy any cartridges and e-liquids which contain nicotine online internationally, mainly from New Zealand. However, from now on residents of Western Australia will even have to buy their nicotine free refills (as well as the e-cig devices) online after it became illegal in April for them to be sold anywhere within the state.


Vaper Empire - the Vantage Series of e-cigarettesThere are several local online retailers selling both e-cigarette starter kits and refills. Vaper Empire, for example, offers a range of styles when it comes to devices alondside a wide selection of flavoured e-liquids. Starter kits range from between $85 to $130, depending on the models chosen, while e-liquids are $12 each. You can also get 6 of them for the price of 5 ($60) in opt for one of their value packs.


Blackhawx E-Cigarettes Starter KitAlternatively, if you prefer the traditional cartridge based e-cigarettes, Blackhawx offers starter kits and nicotine free flavoured refills which include free shipping Australia-wide on all orders over $99. A starter kit will cost you $89.95, which seems to be one of the most competitive prices online locally when compared to other Australian retailers who appear to be selling similar starter kits for over $100.

SMOKO Electronic Cigarette Starter PacksBuying electronic cigarettes abroad seems to be the most reasonable alternative, not to mention that it might be your only option if the WA e-cig ban goes nationwide. UK based merchant SMOKO sells starter kits including a free pack of refills for a total of $45.32. SMOKO also offers store credit for rating products or writing a review, which can give you additional discounts to use on your next purchase. Also, keep in mind it's worth checking Buckscoop’s Vouchers page for SMOKO discount codes on a regular basis.



[E-cig Fact Sheet - Quitsa.org.au]


  • odysseus
    While we need to wait for the research, I can't help but suspect a lot of the 'it's great to help quit' argument is more just a self-serving argument driven by those who make money from the devices. Then there's the fact that there's a large unregulated industry makes it quite possible and imo likely that some of the liquids have harmful additives of some kind. Further, you only have to look at how 'big tobacco' is getting behind the production and marketing of these devices in the US to see that it is supported by a big lobby group, and looks to be a way of rekindling a dying market, where the tobacco industry is getting a lot of heat. There, they're seen as a _new_ market to enter, not to help quit smoking, but for those who want (what they're trying to make) a socially acceptable puff at certain venues, and keep their existing market going at home and other private locations. So, it's a two pronged attack. 1) Target venues to say 'this stuff isn't harmful' so let people 'smoke' them here, and 2) target consumers to say 'buy these and you can have a cool new product to use in public,' with the intent they keep up their regular smoking lifestyle elsewhere.
  • Captainjack
    Huh, interesting comment there odysseus about the big tobacco companies getting behind the e-cig industry. Hadn't come across that in my reading but it's not hard to believe that this is very likely to be the case (considering the argument of it giving them a certain level of revival within their own sector). My main interests in these devices are twofold: (1) Are they more or as effective as other quit-smoking aids on the market; and (2) are the additives and chemicals used in "e-liquids" less harmful than the substances found in traditional cigarettes. Assuming the research over time concludes this to be the case, then even as a non-smoker I'm all for the use of e-cigs - as a cessation aid, that is.

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