For a short while before Christmas is looked possible that Hunt’s humiliation could get even worse as some politicians with a dose of common sense sought to overturn the government’s prescription-only policy on vaping.
Matt Canavan and Hollie Hughes attempted to change policy to allow vapers to legally buy devices and liquids containing nicotine from other countries. Unfortunately, they were met with the blinkered opposition that relied on debunked claims of a gateway effect roping children into tobacco use.
The pair proposed Australia ought to adopt the successful consumer-based approach to legislation that has benefitted smokers in the United Kingdom.
The level of ignorance and toxicity in the Australian debate was illustrated by the First Assistant Secretary of Health Protection saying there is “no evidence” that vaping works to help smokers quit – Public Health England’s figures demonstrates this statement is utterly untrue.
Previously, Colin Mendelsohn, Conjoint Associate Professor in the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of New South Wales, said: “The evidence is very clear, that vaping is more effective than other quitting aids and could significantly reduce Australia's smoking rate.”
In what is being termed “a revolt”, Canavan and Hughes’ action did manage to get Hunt to drop his attempt to ban the importation of vaping mods and atomisers.
Hollie Hughes obtained signatures of 28 other MPs to oppose the import restriction. She told journalists: “After the TGA [Therapeutic Goods Administration] and Hunt announcements, it’s clear they’ve listened, reversed position on the regulation, and that’s no longer on the table. We welcome that move. We’ve gone from an attempt to restrict vaping to what is fundamentally the status quo with a step to legalisation through a national prescription scheme.”
It’s not all good news though as laws remain in place in all bar one state that criminalise the possession of a vaping device or bottles containing juice with nicotine without the possession of a prescription.
The TGA responded to the Hunt dropping the block on imports by stating: “Individuals attempting to import commercial quantities of nicotine e-cigarettes and liquid nicotine may be subject to importation and seizure of products and potential fines under existing regulation.”
Sarah Henderson, despite being the reason Canavan and Hughes’s attempt to overturn the nicotine import aspect failed, added a note of optimism when she said: “The TGA should consider reviewing the classification of liquid nicotine to enable it to be sold in pharmacies without a prescription.”