The law regarding vaping in Australia is complex, more so when you factor in differences as you move from state to state. What remains uniform according to Quit.org is: “The sale and personal possession or use (among other things) of nicotine electronic cigarettes is currently unlawful in every jurisdiction in Australia.” There are exceptions, and even cases where an individual can legally import nicotine base or nicotine e-liquids, but the over-arching law is equivalent to a de facto ban.
What is interesting, considering the tight regulations vape businesses are operating under, is the range of products and juices available online to Aussie vapers. It exemplifies how difficult it is to enforce the strict law – and gives an indication how a post-TPD market might look in Britain when vapers are reluctant to let go of their 5ml tanks.
The NNA is pushing for some common sense to be used and has made a submission to the TGA for low-strength nicotine for use in electronic cigarettes to be made legally available. Speaking on behalf of the organisation, Donna Darvill said: “It is ludicrous to ban a product that the UK’s Department of Health and the UK Royal College of Physicians have concluded is at least 95 per cent safer than smoking while deadly tobacco cigarettes can be purchased at any corner shop or petrol station in Australia.”
NNA’s president, Attila Danko added: “The UK’s Royal College of Physicians recently concluded that ‘in the interests of public health it is important to promote the use of e-cigarettes, NRT and other non-tobacco nicotine products as widely as possible as a substitute for smoking’. This cannot be ignored by the Commonwealth Department of Health.”
Despite Danko pointing out there is no evidence to support the fears of a gateway effect, Australian news focused on the potential for ecig to lure teens into smoking. “Experts fear legalising e-cig nicotine,” sang News.com. These unnamed “experts” told the media outlet “the medicines regulator will be bombarded by big tobacco companies, looking to e-cigarettes as another opportunity to get people hooked”.
They do quote Simon Chapman who, as we all know, is far from being an expert. He cautioned that “evidence from the US and Poland shows e-cigarettes are acting as a gateway to smoking for young people.” But does it? Not according to the statistics produced by the CDC or the Tobacco Atlas.
The CDC has recorded an ongoing decline in the rate of smoking within the teen population in the United States. While in Poland, teen smoking rate stood at 18.6% in 2012 figures and has dropped to 10% according to the latest information. If Chapman’s ‘gateway’ argument were to hold any water then we’d be witnessing an increase in the number of smokers – we aren’t.
The NNA’s application will be considered by the TGA’s Advisory Committee on Chemical Scheduling in November 2016.