New vape shop sparks community concern
Parents in Kensington are voicing their concern over the opening of a new e-cigarette and tobacco shop in the area, which also sells confectionery.
The store at 476 Macaulay Rd – which is frequented by primary and secondary students who use Kensington train station – is sparking fear among parents that its presence would “heighten the curiosity” in young people experimenting with e-cigarette smoking, also known as “vaping”.
“As a resident, I am extremely concerned by the increasing accessibility to vaping and tobacco products in this area,” a mother of two school children, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said, noting it was the second tobacco/vape store to open on the Bellair St/Macaulay Rd strip within a year.
I take umbrage with the location of this new store in full view of minors and the unethical, misleading labelling of the word ‘confectionery’. Many residents feel the same way and will take it to the council.
The store, which opened on February 11, has signs displaying “Kensington Confectionery Store” and “Discounted Tobacco”, while “Vapes-Lollies-Shisha Accessories” is also plastered across the shop’s front, along with various popular candy brands.
A cashier at the store named Sam, who asked not to use his surname, said all vaping products were locked behind a sealed cabinet behind the counter, and staff always checked identification before selling such products.
Sam said minors were also kept away from any cigarette papers, lighters, or filters, and shisha hookahs displayed on shelf.
“I tell them to stick to the lollies. I would never encourage smoking, vaping, or sell energy drinks to any kids, it’s just a no-no,” he said.
“I’ve got kids myself and I don’t want my kids drinking energy drinks.”
Sam said he and the business owner “can totally understand” the concerns of the community but they were committed to “doing everything” so the community was happy.
“It’s not about the money. We’re trying to not upset the community; I’m trying to keep everyone happy.”
“The third day I shut down and rearranged half the store,” he said, adding, “We’ve still got a lot more work to be done in terms of putting a lot more stuff away.”
If the community feels like we haven’t done enough, please let us know because we’re always open-minded.
In Victoria, it is illegal for any person to sell any type of tobacco e-cigarette products to a person under the age of 18. Vapes containing nicotine can only be sold by a registered pharmacy to adult smokers with a prescription.
University of Melbourne Associate Professor Michelle Jongenelis, from the Melbourne Centre for Behaviour Change, said e-cigarette use was becoming a critical public health issue and was “especially troubling” among adolescents.
“In addition to the health harms associated with e-cigarette use, there is a concern that use acts as a gateway to smoking,” she told North West City News.
“We are concerned about use of any addictive substance but nicotine exposure in adolescence and young adulthood is particularly detrimental to the developing brain and can impact brain functioning.”
Amelia Yazidjoglou, a research assistant at the Australian National University’s National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health, said e-cigarettes were designed to be especially attractive to youth as they were brightly coloured and available in different flavours.
“There are efforts being made [around changing current laws] but at the moment we aren’t protecting our youth, and this is a big concern and there are a lot more storefronts popping up in a lot of areas that are frequented by youth and adolescents,” she said.
“Everyone has a right to be concerned. We do know that if you use a vape, you’re three times as likely to take up combustible smoking, and that’s another big risk that we’re quite concerned about, too.” •