Major Policy Shift in Oz

Posted 30th January 2020 by Dave Cross
The Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP) has made a ground-breaking move to accept that vaping “may be a reasonable intervention for people who have failed to quit smoking with approved pharmacotherapies”. Doctor Alex Wodak says this is no toppling of the “Berlin Wall of Australia’s Health Establishment” but it’s shaken its foundations.

ATHRA announced: “It is hard to underestimate the importance of this announcement on vaping by the RACGP. The College is to be congratulated for this important shift in policy based on a comprehensive review of the evidence.”

“The peak GP organisation has carefully reviewed all the evidence on the effectiveness and safety of vaping and has determined that it is a legitimate quitting aid for adult smokers.

The guidelines advise GPs and other health professionals to recommend vaping for smokers who want to quit but have tried unsuccessfully with currently available medications.”

ATHRA says the policy shift brings it closer to the positions held by the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists, the UK Royal College of General Practitioners, and the New Zealand Medical Association.

“Endorsement by the College recognises that many smokers struggle to quit with conventional treatments. Even with the best therapies, quit rates are modest and most smokers try and fail repeatedly. The only alternative for many smokers has been to continue to smoke.”

Vampire Vape

“GPs were previously reluctant to support vaping as it was not yet approved by health authorities. However now the peak GP organisation has given its stamp of approval, smokers can ask their GP or health professional about vaping and get their support on the quitting journey. The research shows that support from a health professional increases quit rates even further.”

The RACGP’s chairman of the expert advisory group, Nicholas Zwar, commented: “The therapies that have been tested and been through therapeutic approval would be the first choice, but if you have someone who has not succeeded in quitting using those methods and they are interested in nicotine vaping, there is some evidence of benefit and they could be considered."

Alex Wodak, drug law reform doctor and President of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation, said: “This is BIG! No, the Berlin Wall of Australia’s Health Establishment hasn’t toppled yet. But it’s definitely become a little unstable! Yes, there are some important caveats in this advice re vaping. But we all know what will happen to these caveats over time.

Legalise Vaping Australia announced that it was looking forward to seeing the full report.

Premier Ecigs

Co-owner of Alt Australia and Vapo Australia, Ben Pryor, said: “Australia has very tough rules around nicotine vaping, which is sadly why Australian smoking rates have stalled. In comparison, New Zealand smokers have embraced vaping with Kiwi smoking rates at an all-time low and falling.”

“This latest advice from the RACGP will certainly enable more Australian smokers keen to quit the opportunity to try the safe and most effective smoking cessation tool the world has ever seen. More Australian smokers will soon discover that vaping is much more effective than all other nicotine replacement therapies.”

Mr Pryor says he is confident over time Australia will liberalise access to nicotine vaping for Australian smokers keen to quit deadly and expensive tobacco, with this latest RACGP endorsement to doctors an important step.


  • ATHRA – [link]
  • Legalise Vaping Australia – [link]
  • VAPO Australia – [link]

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