QUEENSLAND has become the first jurisdiction in the world to subject e-cigarettes to the same laws as tobacco cigarettes.
Parliament last night passed a Bill which will prevent big tobacco from marketing the unproven product.
The amendments to the Tobacco Act will become effective from 1 January 2015, and will ensure the same restrictions on regular cigarettes will be applied to all electronic cigarettes.
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Cancer Council Queensland spokesperson Katie Clift welcomed the passing of the new laws.
“These new laws are an important step toward a smoke free future, and another great step in ensuring the health and safety of Queenslanders in their local communities,” Ms Clift said.
“The laws will prevent e-cigarettes from being sold to children, ban their use in indoor or outdoor public places, and ensure no promotion or advertisement of the products in retail outlets.
“We commend the Health Minister for his leadership on this issue, addressing public health concerns about the health effects of the use and exposure of e-cigarettes.”
The new laws follow Cancer Council Queensland’s calls for tough regulation of the sale and use of all electronic cigarettes.
“The Health Minister’s action on this issue will further discourage our next generation from taking up smoking, continuing our progress towards a smoke free Queensland,” Ms Clift said.
“E-cigarettes are a significant threat to public health – no e-cigarette has been tested for quality, safety or performance by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
“The liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes is currently illegal in Australia and has not been deemed safe for use by medical experts and health authorities.”
The move follows a recommendation by the WHO for tougher regulation of e-cigarettes, and evidence from the United States that young people who smoke e-cigarettes are nearly twice as likely to intend smoking regular cigarettes in future.
“With a lack of long-term scientific evidence to support the safety of e-cigarettes, it is a serious concern their use could lead to nicotine addiction and the uptake of tobacco smoking among young people,” Ms Clift said.
Queensland Parliament last night also passed laws banning smoking within five metres of hospital grounds and school gates.
Currently 500,000 Queensland adults are smokers.
Around 3000 Queenslanders will die from a tobacco-related disease each year. About 300 of these deaths are caused by second-hand smoke exposure.
The new laws allow Queensland Health environmental officers to issue on-the-spot fines of around $220 to e-cigarette smokers. Penalties to retailers also apply.
Smokers can obtain free information, practical assistance and support from Quitline, 13 QUIT (13 7848), or join the QUEST to quit at www.quest.org.au.