E-cigarettes to fall under Qld tobacco laws

Queensland is set to become the first state to subject e-cigarettes to the same laws as the tobacco variety.

The State Government wants to amend tobacco laws so e-cigarettes can only be used in designated smoking areas, cannot be sold to minors, and cannot be advertised or publicly displayed.

Health Minister Lawrence Springborg will introduce the amendment bill into Parliament today, with the laws due to come into effect from January 1, 2015.

The new laws will primarily be enforced by Queensland Health officers who will be able to ask smokers to stop, give a warning or issue an on-the-spot fine of about $220.

Penalties to retailers will also apply.

“This early, preventive action addresses public health concerns about these products including their use in smoke-free places, the unknown health effects of use and exposure, and potential for a new market of smoking,” Mr Springborg said in a statement.

“Like regular cigarettes, the Tobacco Act amendments will not ban these devices outright but will subject them to tough restrictions.”

The amendment follows the release of a World Health Organisation report last month which found there was insufficient evidence that e-cigarettes help people to quit smoking.

It also showed nicotine exposure had the potential to affect brain development.

Last month, it was revealed that accidental poisonings from e-cigarettes had risen significantly in Australia over the past five years, with many severe cases affecting children.

The number of calls to the country’s four Poison Information centres went from two to 54 between 2009 and 2013.