In the Australian state of Queensland, nicotine is illegal. It’s illegal for a vendor to sell it, but it’s also illegal for a vaper to possess or use. Yes, illegal. Totally prohibited. In fact, you can be fined more than $9,000 for possessing nicotine.
Electronic cigarettes containing liquid nicotine are illegal in Queensland. It is an offence under the Health (Drugs and Poisons) Regulation 1996 (PDF, 1 MB)(HDPR), for a person to manufacture, obtain, possess, prescribe, dispense, sell, advertise, use or destroy nicotine, unless the person is specifically authorised or holds an approval under the HDPR. The maximum penalty is $9,108. — Queensland Health website
This isn’t news. Nicotine possession has been prohibited in Queensland since 1996. What makes it a story is an Australian vaper named Jennifer Stone, who posted some tweets today that caught the attention of a lot of vapers.
Yeah, you read that right. The Queensland government is encouraging citizens to report people who might use nicotine. They’d like you to turn your friends in. Drop a dime. Rat ‘em out. Snitch. The state government actually has a phone number listed on its official website that you can call to inform on fellow citizens engaged in the dangerous crime of vaping.
You have the freedom to die
We reported recently on the Australian national government’s planned review of vaping and e-cigarettes. They commissioned some of the most rabid anti-vaping “experts” in the world, many of whom are locals. Australia is home to perhaps the most wild-eyed, prohibitionist tobacco controllers anywhere. No one — the government included — could have any doubt about what conclusions just-say-no antis like Simon Chapman and Mike Daube would reach about vaping.
Additionally, this is the country where a vaping vendor was prosecuted for selling e-cigs. He just lost an appeal, and now may lose his home to pay legal costs in the case. (You can still help Vincent van Heerden — please do!) But guess what’s completely legal and widely available? Yep, cigarettes. Hey, it’s a free country, right? Dear citizens: If you can’t quit the way we want you to, you’re free to die. Signed, Your government.
So, knowing what we know about Australia’s backward laws and hateful anti-vaping rhetoric, who would have expected to hear anything that could make us even more contemptuous toward this rampant nanny state? Not me. But they pulled it off. Creating 1-800-NICSNITCH might be the ugliest example yet of a government treating vapers as criminals and “addicts,” and using state power to drive people away from harm reduction and straight into the welcoming arms of the cigarette industry.
Queensland, you’re killing us.