Last August, the New Nicotine Alliance (NNA), who is a non profit organization that supports tobacco harm reduction strategies, was amongst those who submitted proposals to the TGA to remove nicotine concentrations of below 3.6% from the Poisons Standard. However in an interim agreement which took place over a week ago, the regulator said that the current ban on nicotine will remain in place.
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In an article published yesterday on Nicotine Science and Policy, board member at the NNA, Dr. Attila Danko, said that despite the fact that their hopes were crushed, this application was just a necessary first step, and that the real battle starts now.
The application was only a necessary first step
He went on the explain how Australia is the ideological world centre in relation to opposing tobacco harm reduction, and prior to the NNA’s presence on the continent, electronic cigarettes were generally viewed as a ploy set in place by big tobacco companies, to get more people addicted to nicotine, via the enticing e-liquid flavours.
An important shift in perspective has already taken place
“We have lost this small battle with the regulators, but we have had a major victory in terms of hearts and minds. The Australian tobacco control prohibitionist orthodoxy is starting to crumble, exposed for the hollow, immoral and cruel shell that it is, that would rather see recreational nicotine be as harmful as possible and for smokers to die, if it would promote their unachievable abstinence-only project of a nicotine-free world,” said Danko.
“If we had won a minor “victory” with severe restrictions it may have been worse, because we might have been stuck with practically unworkable quasi-legalisation, which took the wind from the sails of popular outrage. Social media was in a frenzy reporting the injustice of this decision and fomenting outrage not only among vapers, but many other non-vapers as well.” he added.
Additionally a positive event took place at around the same time, which has changed the way in how vaping is addressed on the media. A major media and tv figure, Joe Hildebrand, admitted to using electronic cigarettes in order to quit smoking, in what would classify him as a criminal. His powerful story made a lot of noise and was even retweeted by countless other media personalities, politicians and opinion leaders.
The battle in favour of harm reduction will ultimately be won
Dr. Danko said that the NNA’s way forward is now to use this shift in perspective to build the political support needed to change the legislation. He pointed out that the groundwork has been done, and that the NNA has formed alliances in every political party and media outlet.
“What we have done so far will be dwarfed by what we are about to do.” he said, adding that he is convinced that they will win this battle which will lead to a more sensible legislation in regards to vaping products “so that so many Australian smokers’ lives can be saved.”