Australia’s ATHRA Heroes

Posted 6th December 2019 by Dave Cross
The Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association (ATHRA) is taking a heroic stand in fighting for the rights of smokers to reduce their exposure to harm and switch to vaping. It is reporting that vaping has been banned in the Northern Territory, the Australian Retail Vaping Industry Association has been launched and complains about the Chief Medical Officer of Australia misrepresenting evidence.

“The Northern Territory Minister for Health has ruled that all nicotine vaping is a criminal offence, whether the user has a nicotine prescription or not. All Territory vapers are now at risk of a $15,400 fine or 12 months in jail,” writes Colin Mendelsohn.

ATHRA believes that the Territory government is possibly wilfully misinterpreting the law and that the Minister has refused to roll back the measures despite repeated correspondence from ATHRA. “It is important to challenge the overreach of governments in preventing adults from using safer alternatives to smoking and ATHRA is now planning a legal challenge. If one state/territory gets away with this, others will follow.”

“After repeated challenges by ATHRA, Queensland Health admitted that importation of nicotine to stop smoking is legal with a medical prescription, under the TGA Personal Importation Scheme. However in the Territory, the government is refusing to budge.”

To this end, ATHRA now plans on launching a legal challenge and is asking vapers to help: “Donations can be made here and are tax-deductible. Donations of any size are welcome. Donations from all states are welcome. Your state could be next!”

The fightback also took the form of the launch of a new body as the Australian Retail Vaping Industry Association (ARVIA) was unveiled in Canberra. “The vape industry is unique in the retail area. Shop owners and staff are passionate about vaping and want to share their knowledge with their customers,” ATHRA says. “Vape shops are the modern-day smoking clinics which provide a valuable public health service at no cost to the government.”


“As an industry organisation, ARVIA can help to further improve and organise the vaping industry. ATHRA would like to see ARVIA lead the industry on self-regulation. This could include setting standards for the quality and safety of products, guidelines for reducing access of products for young people and supporting research in the area. Another possible benefit of ARVIA is to assist with training of staff. Shop staff have valuable personal experience but could be more effective if trained in smoking cessation skills.”

Finally, ATHRA has written to The Chief Medical Officer of Australia as it accuses him of making “a misleading statement” on the safety of vaping.

“Smokers deserve accurate information from health authorities to make their own choices,” says Colin Mendelsohn. “This scaremongering needs to be called out.”


  • ATHRA – [link]
  • ATHRA’s response to the Chief Medical Officer – [link]

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