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Dr Cox Knocks Oz Legal Blocks

Dr Sharon Cox has spoken about the new vape law Down Under, saying ‘The ends do not justify the means when it comes to Australia's vaping policy’

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Dr Sharon Cox has spoken about the new vape law Down Under, saying ‘The ends do not justify the means when it comes to Australia's vaping policy’. Dr Sarah Jackson praised the commentary saying that Dr Cox ‘gets straight to the point in her commentary on Australian vaping policy’.

"Watching and waiting and holding back safer products while people keep accessing cigarettes are not a means that can be justified. Doing so contradicts the mission to improve the health of the public" 

Dr Sharon Cox

Dr Sharon Cox is a Senior Research Fellow within the Tobacco and Alcohol Research Group (TARG) at University College London. She has been working as a researcher for over 15 years, looking at substance use, treatment. Planet of the Vapes readers will know her from her work focussing on vapes helping with tobacco dependence among people experiencing housing, mental health and social needs. Her work has shown how quitting with a vape can improve health outcomes and quality of life in people experiencing homelessness.

Smoking remains a leading cause of health inequalities and government policy needs to reduce this gradient,” Dr Cox writes. “Many of the people who smoke are from underrepresented and disadvantaged groups, and therefore, hold little power when it comes to political decision making. Hall provides a range of evidence-based arguments that outline why Australia's e-cigarette policy is failing to deliver equitable and effective public health policy. Adding to Hall's own analysis of these issues, I have several further observations.”

Observation No.1 - Smoking Is Dangerous

It’s such an obvious point to everyone except Australian legislators.

There is an urgent need to provide evidence-based support to all people who smoke,” Dr Cox states. She points to the wealth of evidence that we have amassed in the UK, including Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews’ Electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation and the government’s Nicotine vaping in England: 2022 evidence update

The Australian government has always preferred to adopt the precautionary principle but she addresses that by saying that vapes are known to be an excellent quit tool – even if the long-term impact remains unknown.

What has unfolded is a system that makes products difficult to access and overly medicalised,” she adds.

Observation No.2 - The Main Policy Objective Is Not Being Realised

Despite the de-facto ban becoming an outright ban, the number of young people vaping has continued to rise – amplified by disingenuous arguments conflating ever-used with full time vaping.

We know what works because we have decades of evidence from tobacco and other substances like alcohol on how restrictions of sales and marketing, sale environments, age of sale and packaging can help minimise use.”

Observation No.3 - Good Public Health Policy Needs Real-Time Monitoring

Doing so allows greater reaction to potentially flawed practices and policies,” says Dr Cox – but Australia is not going to assess the impact of its new policy until 2026!

Observation No.4 - Adults Who Smoke Are Accessing Vapes Illegally 

She believes that criminalising smokers looking to reduce harm exposure simply serves to “disadvantage those who already are disadvantaged”.

Dr Cox continues: “Making access to e-cigarettes arduous and discouraging, it feeds into the system of determinants that maintain people in a position of inequality.”

Despite speaking from a position of expertise and authority, it remains likely that Australian legislators will continue with their preferred policy of sticking their fingers in their ears.

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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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