Vaping News

Unintended Consequences in Oz

The Land of Oz is now reaping the rewards of its anti-vaping/anti-nicotine policies and failing to address the scourge of tobacco disease and deaths

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The Land of Oz is a magical country, populated by some influential individuals without brain, heart, or fortitude of spirit. Consequently, Australia has enacted the most regressive approach to vaping out of any which otherwise ought to be following Britain’s lead. The hurdles it’s placed in the path of smokers hoping to switch is now paying dividends – not by reducing rates but increasing problems.

Criminalising vapers and vendors for trading products the UK broadly accepts is a reduced harm alternative to smoking was always going to end one way – the charging of someone in possession of vapes.

An unnamed man in southwestern New South Wales was arrested following a search of a petrol station where officers found 1,230 banned nicotine-containing ecigs with “an estimated street value” of just under £30,000 - language so redolent of that commonly used for hard drugs.

Now that vapes are classified as a Schedule 4 prescription drug, smokers and vapers can only obtain nicotine-containing products through a medical prescription but, as we have previously reported, it’s a long and frustrating process when cigarettes remain on sale everywhere.

The second predicted repercussion from this negative approach to tobacco control has been the boom in the black market and counterfeit products.

Without sensible legislation, the Department of Health’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is warning the public “to be aware of counterfeit nicotine vaping products advertised and sold onlinegoods which [are] illegal and pose a serious threat to consumer health.”

Individuals and businesses are prohibited by law to advertise a product that refers to, or contains, nicotine unless they have a legal permission to do so. Since 1 October, the TGA has observed a worrying trend of people trying to evade regulatory detection by digitally removing the word 'nicotine' from nicotine vaping products. In doing so, they are supplying and advertising counterfeit therapeutic goods which is illegal and poses a serious threat to consumer health.”

The TGA is warning importers and suppliers: “It is illegal to import or sell counterfeit products. Criminal and civil penalties can be imposed for such conduct. Also, if you have imported counterfeit nicotine products, you will not be given the opportunity to provide a written authority to support release under the Personal Importation Scheme and your products will be seized and destroyed at the border. This includes products that have been over-labelled with ‘0% Nicotine’ wrappers.”

The legislation was geared around the mantra of “protecting children”. A mark of its abject failure is The Australian Medical Association raising concerns that “young people are continuing to access vaping products despite an import ban coming into effect.”

Who on Earth could have predicted this? Well, absolutely everyone except the loud and ignorant Australian voices who have been attacking vaping and tobacco harm reduction for years.

AMA’s South Australia president has said it is “scary” that people appear to be able to source products online despite the clampdown. No doubt some American once expressed bemusement that drinkers could still find alcohol during the Prohibition too.

Dave Cross avatar

Dave Cross

Journalist at POTV
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Dave is a freelance writer; with articles on music, motorbikes, football, pop-science, vaping and tobacco harm reduction in Sounds, Melody Maker, UBG, AWoL, Bike, When Saturday Comes, Vape News Magazine, and syndicated across the Johnston Press group. He was published in an anthology of “Greatest Football Writing”, but still believes this was a mistake. Dave contributes sketches to comedy shows and used to co-host a radio sketch show. He’s worked with numerous vape companies to develop content for their websites.

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