Business owner Jay Karanouh says he’s treated worse than a tobacconists – yet his store does not stock anything with tobacco in it.
Mr Karanouh runs House of Vape, one of Sydney’s better known vape stores in Five Dock, with his store turning over about $1 million in sales each year.
Despite employing six people and contributing to the economy, Mr Karanouh said he’s shunned and made to work under tighter restrictions because people don’t understand the benefits of vaping in helping people quite smoking.
He’s appeared in a short video for Legalise Vaping Australia that’s had thousands of views.
The organisation recently commissioned a survey to get away from the “common misconception” all vapers are hipsters in their early 20s who live in trendy inner-city
What it discovered is people of all ages and locations use or support vaping, in line with other places that have legalised nicotine vaping, such as the US, Canada, the UK and New Zealand.
Its survey of 1200 people found more than 70 per cent of vapers have quit smoking and “an overwhelming majority” want basic safety regulations and labelling laws introduced once products are first legalised.
Mr Karanouh said despite being a business owner in a tight marginal electorate he had next to no representation from the major political parties.
“The conversation we have with our customers is how do you move away from point a being a smoker, inhaling all the carcinogens, walking around smelling like an ashtray, all the rest of it – how do you move into living a healthier and a cleaner choice,” he said.
“You can walk into a tobacconist, buy a product that’s killing you and everyone around you by second-hand smoking and the rest of it, but yet a vaping shop or a vape lounge that gives people a healthier option – a doorway into escaping from cigarettes – I’m…treated completely different.”
Mr Karanouh’s store is blacked out so pedestrians can’t see in while tobacconists don’t have to do the same.
RELATED: The vaping in Australia debate
A recent study published by Australian and New Zealand researchers found vaping legalisation across the ditch is estimated to cut the country’s healthcare costs by about NZ$3.4 billion
“This modelling suggested that a fairly permissive regulatory environment around vaporised
nicotine products achieves net health gain and cost-savings, albeit with wide uncertainty,” the study concluded.
“Our results suggest that optimal strategies will also be influenced by targeted smoking
cessation advice, regulations around chemical constituents of these products, and marketing
and age limits to prevent youth uptake of vaping.”
New Zealanders would also gain an extra 19 days of life in full health, based on 2011 data.
In the UK smokers in the Manchester borough of Trafford will now receive regular consultations with a quit smoking adviser as part of a new government backed trial and given access to free electronic cigarettes from pharmacies.
Researchers in the UK have backed the use of e-cigarettes as a quitting tool.
It comes as Australia’s public health experts continue to argue against any such move here and after an alarming study pointed to a growing public health concern around young women here trying vaping after never having smoked a real cigarette.
The government’s position is that existing evidence indicates that e-cigarettes are not harmless products and an inquiry into the health impacts of nicotine e-cigarettes was launched by Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt in September.
Brian Marlow, of Legalise Vaping Australia, said our policymakers were failing in their obligation to provide smokers with less harmful alternative choices when trying to quit smoking.
“There is a deepening contrast between the UK quit smoking experience and the Australian experience,” he said.
“The UK’s quit rates have decreased in record numbers while Australian quit rates have remained stagnate since 2015.
“The use of nicotine vaping products remains illegal in Australia without a doctor’s prescription, despite 60-plus studies showing that vaping is a less harmful alternative to cigarettes and a useful tool to quit smoking.”
Mr Marlow said they were calling on state and federal governments to engage with their local community to understand the impact of legalisation and risk-proportionate regulation of vaping products, so that all Australians were supported to quit for good.