In late June, parents of students at Ashfield Boys High School (ABHS) and Ashfield Public School took to the Inner West Council Watch Facebook group to voice their concern over a pop-up vape shop located roughly 100 metres away.
Kate Magoffin has a son in Year 8 at ABHS. Magoffin has taken issue with the state government licensing the store at such close proximity to her son’s school.
Magoffin told the Independent that special deals were advertised in the window of the new vape shop for the week following its opening. The NSW Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2008 states that “it is illegal to display, advertise or promote e-cigarettes”.
Vapes and electronic cigarettes, also known as e-cigarettes, are battery-operated devices that simulate tobacco smoking. The community concern comes after the Therapeutic Goods Administration announced an overhaul to NSW’s nicotine e-cigarette laws in May. It is illegal to sell e-cigarettes to a person under 18.
Magoffin said that she finds the government’s response to vaping contradictory.
“I wonder that such a premises is allowed to operate so close to two schools. And how would the state government know what local people are concerned about?”
St Peters resident and casual teacher Jennifer Killen said that vaping is an endemic problem across high schools and is of primary concern to both the NSW Department of Health and Education.
“Vapes are being sold as if they’re lollies. It’s appalling. Would you put a cigarette shop or an alcohol shop next to a school?”
However, a spokesperson from Legalise Vaping Australia called into question whether parents were keeping in mind that convenience stores are often located next to schools.
“A vape shop isn’t allowed to sell food or any other products that would bring in a customer not looking for a vape. So why are parents not concerned about convenience stores that sell cigarettes?”
The spokesperson said that the current regulatory model put in place by the government has made buying and selling vapes in Australia problematic.
“People can’t go and buy them in a reputable store so what ends up happening is you get this weird grey market where kids go online and buy these products from Instagram and overseas suppliers.”
Councillor for Marrickville Ward Colin Hesse said, “ultimately the decision makers on these products are the NSW and Federal Governments.”
For Killen this is not a local or a political problem, “it’s a statewide problem, and presumably a national problem.”
“The multinationals are trying to make up for their loss in cigarette sales, and they’ve just dived on our children.”