After a number of appeals by public health experts, last month it was announced that Australian authorities had agreed to establish a Select Committee on Tobacco Harm Reduction in order to explore “tobacco reduction strategies,” amongst which vaping.
The Committee was set to analyse the strategies successfully adopted in other countries, such as the UK and New Zealand, and how they have impacted tobacco and nicotine use behaviour. Finally, the committee’s aim was to determine ways in which Australia could reduce youth smoking and vaping, and a final report listing the findings is set to be presented by December 1st, 2020.
Pharmacy association supports the measure
Meanwhile, the TGA has decided to make nicotine for e-cigarettes available only on prescription. Anthony Tassone, Victorian branch president of the Pharmacy Guild, supports the decision. “The Guild supports the interim decision to re-schedule nicotine and supports the decision to include nicotine, when included as a Schedule 4 medicines”.
“The requirement to have products registered on the ARTG will address concerns related to packaging, as well as safety and quality,” he added.
Of course it is no surprise that the Guild and other medical entities would support such measures, as this means they would be the ones benefiting financially. On the other hand, such measures make it harder for smokers seeking to quit cigarettes to access the products, lessening their chances of success.
E-cig sales limited to pharmcies?
Last month, the National Retailers Association (NRA) condemned the proposal put forward by the government to the Therapeutic Goods Administration, to consider allowing only pharmacies to sell smoke-free nicotine products. NRA CEO Dominique Lamb said that this would create a monopoly, to the detriment of small convenience retailers, as they are heavily reliant on tobacco sales.
“The NRA understands the Federal Government has asked the Therapeutic Goods Administration to consider whether smoke-free nicotine products should be made available for sale in pharmacies – either by prescription or with the authorization of a pharmacist,” said Lamb.
“This makes no sense, that cigarettes would be freely available over the counter in corner stores and service stations, but the product that can help people transition away from smoking would be restricted. So outside doctors’ or pharmacists’ work hours, the only available option would be cigarettes. This flies in the face of common sense,” she added.
Lamb added that excluding small businesses from the safer alternatives’ market in this manner, would put these businesses at risk, disrupt market dynamics, and also be counterproductive to public health.
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