QUEENSLAND will be the first state in Australia to subject e-cigarettes to the same laws as regular cigarettes.
The amendments to the Tobacco Act will come into effect from 1 January 2015, and will mean e-cigarettes can only be used in designated smoking areas, cannot be sold to minors, and cannot be advertised or publicly displayed.
The new laws allow Queensland Health environmental officers to ask smokers to stop, give a warning or issue an on-the-spot fine of $220. Penalties to retailers also apply.
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Cancer Council Queensland CEO Professor Jeff Dunn AO welcomed the new laws.
“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,” he said.
“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.
“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.”
The move follows a recent 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,” Prof Dunn said.
“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.”
Smokers can obtain free information, practical assistance and support from Quitline – 13 QUIT (13 7848).