Sexing Up Australian Vape Protests

Posted 25th August 2016 by Dave Cross
Last week, New Zealand authorities announced their intention to embrace harm reduction by making nicotine eliquids available for vaping. The decision was supported by End Smoking NZ and welcomed by Kiwi vapers. Repercussions were swiftly felt in Australia, where users of electronic cigarettes demanded comparable treatment.

We reported how New Zealand’s decision was greeted: ““End Smoking NZ applauds the Government on its decision to make nicotine for vaping (using electronic cigarettes) legally available in New Zealand. The Associate Minister of Health, Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga has made the right decision. He has listened with compassion to smokers and vapers.”

In contrast, last month the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) took two electronic cigarette online retailers to court, and was seen by some as part of the country’s continued war on vape.

Spurred on by the actions of their near neighbours, Australian vapers took to the streets, on August 16th, to protest outside Parliament House in Melbourne, waving banners proclaiming they were being “bullied for smoking bullied for quitting” and that “vaping saves lives”.

The march, organised by the Australian branch of the New Nicotine Alliance, was protesting the Tobacco Amendment Bill that, according to the NNA, “abuses the rights of tobacco users to have easy access to a safer alternative to smoking.”

The NNA said: “We must make politicians aware of the consequences of this Bill, which will regulate e-cigarettes the same way as tobacco products. Vendors will not be able to display their products and won't be able to demonstrate devices to newcomers or to recommend suitable equipment. Users will not be able to vape in smoke-free zones and will be forced into smoking areas, to be exposed to passive smoke. Vape Meets at pubs and clubs will be banned.”

The demonstration included a member of parliament among its ranks. Fiona Patten, the MP for Australia’s Sex Party, said: “Let's protect children but let's protect adults by allowing them to vaporise.”

The sexy party was formed in 2009 to campaign against censorship laws and for civil liberties to ensure the government adopts common sense policies. The Party’s slogan is: “Where you come first!

Colin Mendelsohn, an Associate Professor and tobacco specialist at the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of New South Wales, also attended the protest. He believes: “E-cigarettes provide smokers with an alternative way of getting the nicotine to which they are addicted without the smoke that causes almost all of the adverse health effects of smoking. However, in Australia it is illegal to sell, possess or use nicotine without an authority, such as a prescription. Nicotine is classified as a Schedule 7 "dangerous poison" in the Poisons Standard, the national medicines and poisons register. How have we got it so wrong?”

The answer lies in comments made by Simon Chapman after the event, where he once again relied heavily on dubious studies. The puritanical quit or die approach he inspires appears to demonstrate no signs of waning as four interested bodies, including the Australian Medical Association, wrote to the government in support of the Tobacco Amendment Bill.

 Dave Cross
Article by Dave Cross
Freelance writer, physicist, karateka, dog walker