Australia and the e-cigarette: the state of a nation

Despite 2.4 million Australians smoking cigarettes daily the jury is still out on vaping Down Under.

Following the culmination of a year-long inquiry which included hearings from the Australian medical community and big tobacco, the parliamentary committee which has been looking at Australia’s laws on vaping remains divided.

However, it appears there is growing support for e-cigarettes as smoking cessation aids among some members of parliament. Three MPs have voiced their feelings in favour of legalising the alternative to smoking.

In the aftermath of the culmination of the inquiry, dissenting Liberal MP Trent Zimmerman said e-cigarettes could potentially save thousands of lives if long-term smokers were given the opportunity to turn to them as an alternative to tobacco products.

Two of his colleagues also voiced their frustration at the outcome of the parliamentary health committee majority opposing legalising nicotine e-cigarettes.

Inquiry chairman Trent Zimmerman said,

“Approximately 2.4 million Australians smoke cigarettes daily and it has been estimated that two out of every three smokers will die prematurely due to their smoking. Given these stark figures, reducing the number of Australians who smoke is one of the nation’s most important public health objectives.”

One pro-vape MP is Andrew Laming and he told reporters, 

“Life is short and shorter for smokers. Just legalise vaping.”

There have been calls for further inquiry into the issue and an official report has called for the National Health and Medical Council to support an independent review, which would investigate the health effects of vaping while taking regulations of other countries into account.

There is currently a ban on personal vaping devices and nicotine e-liquid in the country. Liquid nicotine is currently classified as a poison in Australia so nicotine e-cigarettes cannot be legally sold there.

Labor MP and committee chair Steve Georganas, who presented the committee’s recent majority report to parliament told Australian news outlets better research and evidence is needed before taking any steps to legalising e-liquids containing nicotine.

“Until science experts say there is no impact on health we should be very cautious in this area.”

Meanwhile University of New South Wales conjoint associate professor Colin Mendelsohn has this week published a paper in the Internal Medicine Journal of the Royal Australian College of Physicians. He cites research of the possible health benefits smokers would gain from by switching from cigarettes to e-cigarettes and encourages doctors to recommend e-cigarettes on prescription to patients who want to quit smoking once and for all.

The 12-month public health inquiry may have come to an end but the battle for e-cigarettes to be common place in smoking cessation in Australia seems to be only beginning.

Australia, News, Vape Industry

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