Australia’s vaping ban is now in effect, but will it actually work?
From today, it will be illegal to import e-cigarettes without a medical prescription.
Australian liquid nicotine product laws have been in place for over a year. In December, the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) listed liquid nicotine as a Schedule 4 poison, but delayed implementation of the import ban following backlash from lobbyists and politicians.
Over the past nine months, retailers have exploited this loophole, with unregulated vaping readily available under the counter of many convenience stores and tobacco stores (although the Australian Association of Convenience Stores competition this claim).
Proponents of vaping say there is no evidence of the dangers of vaping and that it can help smokers quit, while opponents say it is leading a new generation to become addicted to nicotine.
The rise of vaping
Big tobacco has started introduce yourself as a public health friend, selling smokeless nicotine products as a less harmful alternative to cigarettes.
In January of last year, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners approved the use of nicotine for vaping for smokers who have tried other methods and failed to quit. While there is some evidence that e-cigarettes can help smokers reduce or even quit nicotine, clinical data is limited – some studies showing that vapers can even hinder attempts leave.
Tobacco companies have been accused of marketing brightly colored, fruit-flavored vapes to children, with one company even buying ads on teen-oriented websites for Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and Seventeen magazine.
Between 2016 and 2019, there were up to multiplied by four in the use of electronic cigarettes between 14 to 29 years old. In New South Wales, some private schools have installed CCTV cameras to catch students vaping. From April 2020 to March of this year, NSW has seized more than 51,000 illegal electronic cigarettes.
The TGA argued that nicotine is highly addictive as heroin and cocaine, with international research funded by the World Health Organization that found an association between vaping in non-smokers and increased cigarette use later on the line.
Unregulated vapers also contain household sanitizers, petroleum, cosmetics, paints, and other chemicals that can affect respiratory health. The lung lesions associated with vaping that appeared in 2019 were due to vitamin E acetate, an ingredient since removed from most vaping products.
What delayed the ban?
When Health Minister Greg Hunt announced the new nicotine restrictions in June last year, lobby groups rallied, with 28 Liberal and National MPs writing a letter condemning Hunt’s restrictions. The National Party is the only major political party in Australia to still accept donations from tobacco companies.
Some politicians have questioned the timing of the restrictions, arguing that doctors should focus on giving COVID-19 vaccines instead of nicotine prescriptions. More 100,000 doctors are allowed to prescribe nicotine.
A petition also circulated around parliament, claiming that the ban persecutes the poor, disabled and retired Australians who are addicted to nicotine but cannot afford cigarettes.
Others have said that the laws show what a “nanny state“Australia faces the lack of long-term evidence of the dangers of vaping, pointing to New Zealand, which allows vaping sales.
It’s too late?
Australian Council on Smoking and Health chief executive Maurice Swanson said Crykey the ban would “stop the illegal flow of disposable and highly addictive vaping products” sold to youth.
He said that while the ban wasn’t too late, it would take some time to come into effect.
“Those who are addicted to nicotine would have stored liquid nicotine products, but once those stocks are reduced, they will have to go to their general practitioner,” he said.
The prescription, which lasts 12 months with extensions available, will allow Australians to import nicotine up to a concentration of 100 mg / mL – over five times the maximum allowed in Canada, the United Kingdom and the whole of the European Union.
“It will be essential for the TGA to monitor the impact and effectiveness of this nicotine prescribing model and to continue to ensure that children and youth are fully protected against lifelong nicotine addiction,” Swanson said. .