Last Monday, health professionals gathered at the Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs Conference in Melbourne. Queen Mary University professor Hayden McRobbie, gave a keynote speech in which he pointed out that the sooner Australia changes its stance on e-cigarettes, the more lives will be saved. “For those smokers who won’t or can’t quit, the next best thing would be to switch to vaping,” he said.
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In Australia e-cigarette devices are legal, but the use of nicotine-containing refills is not. In August 2016, several 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.
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.
Public Health experts in favour of vaping
Last July, 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. Amongst these doctors was renowned tobacco treatment specialist Colin Mendelsohn, an anti-smoking activist who works hard at helping smokers curb their habit. “The reality is that many smokers are unable or unwilling to quit. We can’t just sacrifice them,” he told the committee at the time.
Together with Mc.Robbie, Mendelsohn was also at the Alcohol and Drug conference this week. Both professors have carried out extensive independent studies about e-cigarettes and the benefits to be had when they are used as harm reduction or smoking cessation tools.
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