Vaping has helped over three hundred thousand people to escape from the clutches of cigarettes, yet there are still over three million smoking. The changes will rule out the easy access to reduced harm nicotine products that is enjoyed by the more liberally minded Western nations.
Simon Chapman, an Emeritus Professor of Public Health, usually goes out of his way to troll the tobacco harm reduction community. When it came to this ridiculous move by the government, he constrained himself to writing on Twitter: “Breaking: Australia to ban import of ##nicotine juices & salts for use in vaping from July 1, unless importer has Dr's prescription.” No doubt there will be more to come as he is very proud of his “Twitter impressions” [link].
“Many vapers will go back to smoking and smokers will be denied access to a legitimate quitting aid. Vapers who try to import nicotine from 1 July will be fined $220,000,” wrote ATHRA.
“The proposal continues the governments wanton disregard for the growing scientific evidence and effectively denies Australia’s smokers access to vaping, the world’s most popular and effective quitting aid.”
ATHRA say this is a “cruel blow for Australia’s marginalized and disadvantaged communities”. It is concerned that those sections of society experience far higher smoking rates and lower quit success than the rest of the country. “Vaping is 90% cheaper than smoking and can reduce health and financial inequalities.”
The new guidelines, according to the organisation, will entail an “onerous and complicated process” to import nicotine for vaping in future. “Only a handful of Australian doctors are willing to write nicotine prescriptions under current laws. Even fewer will be willing to comply with the complex and time-consuming requirements of the new plan.”
There is an additional problem to vapers sourcing nicotine solutions in future, even if they manage to find a prescription: “The proposal suggests that pharmacists could make up nicotine solutions for vapers who have a prescription. However, pharmacists need permission to possess and import nicotine from the state health departments. All have so far refused to give permission for this purpose.”
ATHRA highlight that a double standard exists here, in that 21,000 smokers die in the country each year and yet tobacco products will remain on sale to all.
“It is unscientific and irrational to ban vaping nicotine which is far safer alternative for smokers while we allow the widespread availability of deadly combustible cigarettes. Vapers are exposed to far fewer chemical toxins than smokers, have far fewer toxins in body tissues and experience substantial improvements in health after switching from smoking.”
As in our other article, the government is claiming this step is needed ‘because of the children’.
ATHRA addresses this issue: “There is no good evidence that vaping leads young people to become regular smokers. Regular vaping is almost entirely confined to current or former smokers and regular vaping is rare amongst never-smokers is very rare. Youth smoking rates in countries like the UK and US are falling faster than ever since vaping became available and it is more likely that is diverting young people from smoking. Research shows that teens who vape before starting to smoke are less likely to become smokers.
“Recent data from the US, the UK and Australia indicate that nicotine poisoning is rare, especially when compared to poisoning from other chemicals and medicines. Most cases are mild and self-limiting and major harm or death are very rare. For example, in 2018 in the US which has the greatest number of vapers globally (the most recent year that statistics are available) there were no deaths from nicotine poisoning.”
The Vaping Bogan
Legalise Vaping Australia calls out: “Now is the time for action! The first thing you can do is sign our petition [link], share the petition online, and get your friends and family to sign too.”
“You can also tweet or email your senator [link]. Our platform lets you easily find your politicians using your zip code and contact them in less than 30 seconds. Last but certainly not least, you can call and email Greg Hunt’s office and let him know you won’t stand for this!”
Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy (AVCA) has come out strongly in support of Australian vapers against a ban of imported nicotine vaping products for personal use into Australia, with or without a prescription.
“AVCA stands with our fellow vapers across the Tasman, as well as organisations such as ATHRA, PPHA, AVA and LVA in denouncing the senseless crackdown by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration,” says Nancy Loucas, who is one of the co-founders of the consumer advocacy organisation in New Zealand.
“It is astonishing that Hunt and his colleagues would go on a witch hunt of this magnitude knowing full well that across the Tasman, New Zealand is gearing up to legalise vaping and provide risk proportionate regulatory frameworks and guidelines for consumer access and availability to assist the thousands of smokers in Aotearoa/New Zealand.
“Alarmingly, people’s human right to choose health is up for sale by those who only see the need to keep collecting the tobacco excise to bolster their coffers. It’s appalling public policy, particularly when we all know cigarettes kill 21,000 Australians a year and are freely available on every corner of Australia without prescription.”
“Australia’s latest regulations are absolutely abysmal,” she adds.