Last Wednesday, Australian doctors addressed the federal parliamentary committee pointing out that smokers should have access to vaping products that would give them the nicotine hit that they are addicted to, without the other harmful components contained in cigarette smoke.
According to an article on News.Com.Au, amongst the speakers was renowned doctor, and tobacco treatment specialist Colin Mendelsohn, who is also an Associate Professor in the School of Public Health and Community Medicine at the University of NSW.
Mendelsohn who is an anti-smoking activist and works hard to help smokers curb their habit, told the committee that promoting abstinence is clearly not enough, and harm reduction should be considered. “The reality is that many smokers are unable or unwilling to quit. We can’t just sacrifice them.”
Another speaker was Head of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation, Dr Alex Wodak, who insisted that a different strategy is required. “It’s very important, in harm reduction and public health generally, to have your intervention (be) attractive to the people most at risk,” said Wodak whilst explaining why flavoured e-liquids have the potential to encourage seasoned smokers to switch to the safer alternatives.
“I think having a vibrant vaping community network, through the distribution of vaping shops, is very important from a public health perspective.” added Wodak whilst mentioning the renowned study released last year in 2016, by Public Health England which indicated that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking.
The regulatory situation Down Under
Down under, e-cigarette devices are legal, but using nicotine-containing refills are not. In August 2016, many public health activists, amongst which the New Nicotine Alliance (NNA), had submitted proposals to local regulator Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), to remove nicotine concentrations of below 3.6% from the Poisons Standard. Their argument was that nicotine containing e-cigarettes hold a lot of potential if used for smoking cessation, and at best are excellent harm reduction tools.
However, in February 2017, the TGA rejected the application and upheld the nicotine ban. “The TGA is essentially saying to the hundreds of thousands of Australians who have already quit smoking by using e-cigarettes: You quit the wrong way. We are not going to let you do this. But you can go and buy a pack of smokes, no problem.” said Dr. Attila Danko from NNA AU, at the time.
Positive results when nicotine e-liquids are allowed
Last Wednesday, the speakers told the committee how smoking rates have drastically decreased in countries where vaping was either endorsed, such as in the UK, or where nicotine-containing e-liquids are at least available, such as in the US. They also mentioned that the theories that vaping either normalises (or acts as a gateway to) smoking, have been proven unsound.
More info : News.Com.Au