A STORE stocking e-cigarettes and liquid for "vaping" has opened in Warrnambool.
South Australia-based D&R Vape owner Ryan Oakley said he was moving his Ivanhoe store to the south-west due to an oversupply of vape stores in Melbourne and advice there was gap in Warrnambool's market.
The store comes as Australian health authorities take a "precautionary" approach to e-cigarettes, citing a lack of evidence of the long-term effects.
The sale of liquid nicotine is banned in Australia unless a doctor prescribes it, but the store can stock flavoured liquids, some tasting like tobacco and others like fruits and desserts.
Mr Oakley said vaping was intended to help people quit smoking.
"We don't sell to minors, we don't sell illicit products, we are here for one thing and that's to help people quit smoking," he said.
Australia's Chief Medical Officer Brendan Murphy in September released a joint statement with his state and territory counterparts saying international evidence showed "a possible link between the use of e-cigarettes and lung disease" following a string of deaths in the United States.
The medical leaders said there was "insufficient evidence to promote the use of e-cigarettes for smoking cessation".
Health bodies have also raised concerns about e-cigarettes, with the Cancer Council of Australia pushing for a ban on non-nicotine electronic cigarettes unless approved by the Therapeutic Goods Commission.
Mr Oakley said the deaths in the United States, some reportedly involving vaping mixed with cannabis products, were unrelated to his business.
"Any illness in America doesn't have anything to do with a shop we are going to set up," he said.
Mr Oakley said he believed vaping carried a lesser risk than smoking tobacco.
"The Royal College of Physicians in the UK, they do have long-term studies and say they are 95 per cent safer than smoking," he said.
"We believe if you have never smoked or vaped, don't start vaping."
The store will open on Timor Street, where Lovely Little Ones closed earlier this year. It will employ up to two staff, with a long-term plan to employ up to six.
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