RANZCP’s statement is issued in support of “the legalisation and regulation of nicotine-containing e-cigarettes and other vaporised nicotine products.” It contains the following key messages:
- People living with mental illness are more likely to smoke tobacco and smoke more heavily than the general population. This is the leading cause of the poorer health and mortality outcomes suffered by this group.
- Tobacco harm reduction is an essential component of any framework that aims to improve health outcomes for people who smoke tobacco.
- Tobacco smokers should have ready access to a broad range of harm reduction and smoking cessation tools.
- Smoking cessation rates are lower for people living with mental illness. Tobacco harm reduction strategies may therefore provide particular benefits for this population group.
- E-cigarettes and vapourisers may provide a less harmful way to deliver nicotine to those who are unable or unwilling to stop smoking tobacco. However, there are no long-term studies recording the magnitude of the effects of long-term vapour inhalation on people’s health.
- Further research is required to ascertain the effectiveness of e-cigarettes and vapourisers as tools for smoking cessation and whether they may provide a novel route into smoking initiation. This does not justify withholding what is, on the current evidence, a lower-risk product from existing smokers while such data is collected
The college sends a clear message to politicians: “The RANZCP supports a legislative framework where e-cigarettes and vapourisers are controlled proportionate to their risks while still allowing for individuals to have appropriate access to these products at a reasonable cost. Regulation is important as it can influence the health benefits of e-cigarettes and vapourisers.”
“The RANZCP also suggests a review of any legislation after five or 10 years to ensure that regulations reflect up-to-date research on the harm and benefits of these products.”
It believes the regulation of vaping should aim to achieve the following objectives:
- Nicotine should be made available as a consumer product for vaping by an exemption from the Poisons Standard
- Minimal taxation to encourage uptake over smoked products
- Safety and quality standards
- Minimum age of sale
- Appropriate restrictions on advertising and display
“It is important that regulations strike an appropriate balance between competing public health priorities such as the need to encourage uptake of e-cigarettes and vapourisers among users of tobacco products while mitigating the potential risks, and ensuring that uptake among non-smokers and youth is minimised. The tobacco industry should not be involved in shaping regulations given the unavoidable conflict of interest, much like is the case for tobacco products currently.”
The Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association (ATHRA) commented: “The Statement notes the growing evidence for the success of vaping overseas.”
Colin Mendelsohn, a tobacco treatment specialist and Associate Professor in the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of NSW, said: “Grateful thanks to the College for their leadership in this, putting health and science first. Your support will save lives. Hopefully other medical and health organisations will follow.”