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Sadly, yesterday, the bells pealed over the state of SA with the death of common-sense politics (was there ever such a thing?!) and the introduction of a state-wide ban of the online sales of Vaping Products.
I mention the online sales ban only as the other regulations imposed on the state were more about bringing SA in line with other states that have similar display laws in place; the online ban however, was a real kick in the nuts for the industry down there and more an overreaction by the state government.
What I fail to understand is, what is the state government hoping to achieve by this measure? I am sure the trusted and often used statement of “Won’t someone think of the Children” be dusted off and paraded around and this statement does certainly work in some regards to this online sale ban.
How do we as an industry, ensure the buyer, when buying through an online channel, is of legal age? Let’s be honest, the use of age verification online is about as useful as tits on a bull; it can be faked, PayPal accounts can be faked, pre-charged visa cards are available so there is little to no challenges in under age persons obtaining both traditional cigarettes or vaping products online.
There are alternatives available and maybe a discussion within the industry may have been able to work on solutions to the problem instead of an outright ban. The simplest solution would have been to implement an Identification verification process, which the vendor would have to manage, manually through the use of ID verification tools; this would have added cost to the vendor, but it would have allowed the continuation of online sales to the multitude of people around the state of SA that have zero fucking access to a vape shop and have to shop online.
Gloomily I must also state, that I don’t think the online sales ban will stop in SA. They will be the proverbial test case in which the other states (QLD and NSW I am looking at you) will use to implement similar restrictions.
The other questions are, how will they police the delivery services into and out of South Australia and how does SA hope to go after sellers in other states when they would have to extradite the person/s to SA given they have no way to prosecute in another state as this State Law and not Federal?
Online will always have a place in the shopping ecosystem, but could a compromise be reached? What about a suggestion of, allow online sales, but only from Vendors that have both a store front and the appropriate state tobacco licensing? That suggestion probably won’t make me too popular but if it came down to a complete ban or this compromise, I’d take the compromise any day.
So please, take a moment of silence as we remember, remember, the 1st of October, as the day a State went rogue, shafted thousands of law abiding citizens, decimated a local industry, killed off jobs, forced businesses to move interstate and just straight up ignored any advice they were given by the industry.