Government announces major crackdown to effectively ban nicotine imports
Posted on June 19, 2020
THE PLAN announced today by the Health Department to block the importation of nicotine for vaping is effectively a death sentence for hundreds of thousands of Australian vapers and smokers.
Many vapers will go back to smoking and smokers will be denied access to a legitimate quitting aid. Vapers who try to import nicotine from 1 July will be fined $220,000!
The proposal continues the governments wanton disregard for the growing scientific evidence and effectively denies Australia’s smokers access to vaping, the world’s most popular and effective quitting aid.
This is a cruel blow for Australia’s marginalized and disadvantaged communities which have far higher smoking rates and lower quit success than the rest of the community. Australia's high cigarette prices cause serious financial stress in the population. Vaping is 90% cheaper than smoking and can reduce health and financial inequalities.
Under the new guidelines, importation of nicotine for vaping involves an onerous and complicated process requiring a doctor’s prescription, special applications and importation procedures
Only a handful of Australian doctors are willing to write nicotine prescriptions under current laws. Even fewer will be willing to comply with the complex and time-consuming requirements of the new plan.
Under the new laws, vapers are no longer able to import nicotine e-liquid for their own personal use. Only medical suppliers or pharmacists can import nicotine with permission granted by the Health department
The proposal suggests that pharmacists could make up nicotine solutions for vapers who have a prescription. However, pharmacists need permission to possess and import nicotine from the state health departments. All have so far refused to give permission for this purpose.
On the other hand, there are no restrictions on the purchase of tobacco cigarettes which kill 21,000 Australians each year.
It is unscientific and irrational to ban vaping nicotine which is far safer alternative for smokers while we allow the widespread availability of deadly combustible cigarettes.
Vapers are exposed to far fewer chemical toxins than smokers, have far fewer toxins in body tissues and experience substantial improvements in health after switching from smoking.
According to the UK Royal College of Physicians, long-term vaping is likely to be no more than 5% of the risk of smoking. Studies suggest that vaping is up to twice as effective as nicotine replacement products such as patches and gum.
Most smokers want to quit and try and fail repeatedly. Vaping provides an exit strategy for smokers who are otherwise unable to quit and has helped millions of smokers to quit worldwide.
Australia has about 300,000 vapers who have used vaping as a quitting aid or as a safer alternative to smoking. For most, it will now be almost impossible to access nicotine.
Many will have no choice but to go back to smoking or to access nicotine through unregulated black-market supplies which are bound to step in to fill the gap.
The changes will also make vaping unavailable for Australia’s 3 million current smokers.
It is morally wrong for the government to deny smokers access to a far safer alternative which will improve their health.
The crackdown has been justified on the basis of exaggerated and unjustified concerns about youth vaping and nicotine poisoning.
There is no good evidence that vaping leads young people to become regular smokers. Regular vaping is almost entirely confined to current or former smokers and regular vaping is rare amongst never-smokers is very rare. Youth smoking rates in countries like the UK and US are falling faster than ever since vaping became available and it is more likely that is diverting young people from smoking. Research shows that teens who vape before starting to smoke are less likely to become smokers.
Recent data from the US, the UK and Australia indicate that nicotine poisoning is rare, especially when compared to poisoning from other chemicals and medicines. Most cases are mild and self-limiting and major harm or death are very rare. For example, in 2018 in the US which has the greatest number of vapers globally (the most recent year that statistics are available) there were no deaths from nicotine poisoning.
Advice from the TGA
Information for importers
Information for individuals, doctors and importers
Posted by Colin Mendelsohn, firstname.lastname@example.org