From July this year, anyone choosing to use e-cigarettes will now face the same bans as regular smokers of tobacco products.
State parliament passed new laws on Wednesday night which will see smokers of e-cigarettes fined up to $550 if caught vaping in public spaces or on public transport across NSW.
“The new laws do not ban people from using e-cigarettes,” Health Minister Brad Hazzard said in a statement today.
“Put simply, where you are not allowed to smoke cigarettes, you now cannot vape either.’’
Mr Hazzard said despite claims to the contrary, the jury is still out on the alleged benefits of e-cigarettes.
“The medical advice from Australian authorities is we need to err on the side of caution," he said.
“The NSW Government is acting now to protect vulnerable bystanders from passive exposure to vapour and if you snub these new laws you risk fines of up to $550."
That includes shopping centres, cinemas, libraries, trains, buses, public swimming pools, near children’s play equipment, sports grounds, public transport stops and outdoor dining areas.
Mr Hazzard said the Smoke-free Environment Amendment Bill 2018 will come into effect in July, and will match laws in most other States.
Queensland, Victoria, Tasmania and the ACT already regulate e-cigarettes to ban their use in smoke-free areas.
NSW’s chief health officer said there is evidence of potential health risks from e-cigarette vapours – even if there’s no illegal nicotine in the e-liquid.
Vapours can contain chemicals, toxins and metals, and some of these substances, like formaldehyde, are known to cause cancer, Dr Kerry Chant said.
“The National Health and Medical Research Council states e-cigarettes expose both users and bystanders to very small particles which may worsen existing illnesses or increase the risk of developing cardiovascular or respiratory disease."
“There is conclusive evidence that e-cigarette vapour increases particulate matter and nicotine in the air which may be a risk to bystanders who are exposed to the vapour.”
The Therapeutic Goods Administration has not approved any e-cigarette product as an aid to help with quitting smoking.
The new legislation also requires e-cigarettes retailers to notify NSW Health they are selling such products, as tobacco retailers are already required to do.