Vapers told to share smokers’ pens

South Australian vapers are being told they must go to smoking areas if they want to use their e-cigarettes at the Royal Adelaide Show, which starts September 4.

Local media reports say organisers would be “making a polite request for cooperation”, given the order cannot be legally enforced.

Show general manager Michelle Hocking told ABC: “What we’re doing this year is we are asking politely – if you do want to have an e-cigarette can you go to a smoking zone. And we’re sure other members of the public will help us police that.”

The attempt to make vapers share smokers’ passive smoking – although e-cigarettes emit no smoke – comes soon after South Australia set up a parliamentary committee to examine ways to deal with the increasingly popular e-cigarette. Public health and harm reduction experts worldwide have been increasingly strident in their calls for e-cigarettes to be encouraged as a much safer alternative to smoking and a means of getting smokers to stop using cigarettes altogether.

Mrs Annabel Digance, a governing Labor MP and chair of the committee, was reported as “supportive” of the Show’s stance. A trained nurse, she said there were still a lot of “unanswered questions” when it came to e-cigarettes.

ABC reported: “While it was legal to possess nicotine juice for cigarettes, the distribution and sale of the nicotine juice was illegal. ‘E-cigarettes are still such an unknown product,’ she said.”

The UK’s top independent public health body, the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) just a few days earlier reported its concern at “public confusion” over e-cigarettes and called for authorities to start “encouraging smokers to use safer forms” of nicotine, which it calls “no more harmful to health than caffeine”.

Tobacco control policymakers in many countries have already accepted that adoption and encouragement of e-cigarettes – as a less harmful alternative to conventional smoking – can save thousands of lives, reducing the risk of disease associated with smoking.