Dr Counter is one of a handful of doctors in the whole of Australia who is willing to prescribe vape products for people who want to quit smoking. While the sale of vape kit including nicotine remains illegal (despite cigarettes being freely available), doctors are allowed to issue prescriptions for it – although this disregards guidelines from her medical body.
“We still have medical leaders in Australia who can't (or won't) understand the basics of combustion toxicology” - Doctor Attila Danko
Australia has 2.4 million daily smokers, of which only 30% have tried vaping once. The total number of current vapers in the country is around one per cent. With the rates of smoking rising, these figures fall far short of the numbers being achieved in more forward-looking countries, like the United Kingdom and Canada.
Australia also has a Hunt in charge of health policy. Showing how much of a Hunt he is, the Health Minister said: “The overwhelming medical advice and evidence is that it’s likely to lead to the uptake of smoking and we cannot support that.”
Rather than simply making it easier for her smoking patients to quit tobacco, Doctor Karen Counter has set up a joint venture called Nicovape. Clients fill in an online questionnaire, and then get prescribed a $10 pod that is delivered in the post. Counter said: “I feel it’s my duty of care. We can't sit around and watch people die, waiting for 100 per cent perfect evidence."
The company states: “Our goal is to save a million Australian lives by 2021. We are a proudly independent New Zealand owned and operated e-cigarette device and eliquid manufacturer. We offer a free online medical prescription service in collaboration with leading Australian tobacco treatment specialists, and are the only supplier servicing the general retail sector who has met the strict quality manufacturing standards required to obtain full product liability insurance coverage in the Australasian region. We have absolutely no affiliation with any Big Tobacco corporation.”
“Our mission is to eradicate all consumer demand for – and usage of – traditional tobacco products, ultimately eliminating all smoking-related illnesses in the Australasian region. We are achieving this by providing a high quality, legal and safer alternative for smokers. Our products are substantially cheaper than smoking, and are available online and at many convenient bricks-and-mortar retail locations. Most importantly, all of our products are manufactured in a safe, regulated, and GMP-certified environment, and are the only ones endorsed by leading Australian medical experts and associations.”
Even better news for Australian smokers is that the first 5,000 customers will receive their equipment for free – and Nicovape will credit their account with $50 to be used in future.
What the new venture is up against is encapsulated by the ramblings of new Australian Medical Association president Tony Bartone: “It may be less harmful on the basis of current evidence - but it may also be worse. There’s no irrefutable and reliable evidence that they are safe, that they don’t pose a future risk to the users.”
It’s incredible to think that Bartone went to University, let alone specialised in medicine.