How Dr Carolyn became a passionate advocate for vaping
Posted on July 31, 2020
Hello everyone. My name is Carolyn Beaumont. I am a GP in Victoria, and one of the 'gang of 7' prescribing doctors listed with ATHRA.
I've been consulting and prescribing for many of you the past few months. I've had bracingly honest and illuminating conversations with so many of you, and I love hearing about how your lives have improved since starting nicotine vaping in order to stay smoke-free.
These are some typical comments: 'I have my life back', 'I can run around and play with the kids now', 'my relationship is better', 'I can smell and taste', 'I don't get asthma anymore', 'I'm not short of breath anymore', 'my sex life is better', 'my mood is better'.
Obviously the financial savings are huge too, but this seems to be mentioned as secondary to other life improvements.
What is also evident, is that none of you want to be accessing nicotine via the black market. Many of you didn't know that a script has been required since 2017. You've had huge difficulties in accessing local doctors willing to listen and prescribe.
And without fail, every single one of you tells me that if legal nicotine was unavailable because of legislation, that you would either have to return to smoking or get nicotine illegally somehow
I thank you all for your honesty, and it allows me to truly understand what you're going through in this uncertain and punitive political climate.
I am a 46 year old GP. Although that makes me sound like I have years of experience under my belt, in reality I only completed my GP training earlier this year. I took a few detours in my earlier life, and didn't start medical school until my late 30s.
I think becoming a doctor later in life has many benefits. I know what it is to be an ordinary human, with vulnerabilities and complications and strengths and weaknesses. I know that listening to my patient counts for almost more than anything else. We don't have 2 ears and only 1 mouth for no reason!
So why did I decide to start prescribing nicotine this year? A number of reasons. Before 2020, I had never heard of nicotine e-juice. I knew about the smoking cessation options as taught in my GP-training college. The term 'vaping' was never mentioned.
But then I noticed a friend vaping. I asked about it, and was surprised to learn she had finally quit smoking after many failed attempts. Her life was so much better, her general health and energy had improved out of sight.
It's odd how things work out - not long after that, I came across an article about vaping in a medical journal, with a link to ATHRA. I had also just finished my final GP exams, so I had time and energy to explore new areas. I contacted Colin Mendelsohn, started to learn more about the field, and decided to dip my toe into the nicotine prescribing land.
Apologies in hindsight to my very first phone-based consult: as soon as the call ended, Colin came to the rescue to help me work out what on earth to write on the script! Fast forward a few months, and I'm almost fluent in the language of vapors - I can talk about 'direct to lung', 'mouth to lung', 'salt nic', 'low wattage' and 'throat feel' with the best of them!
I've recently setup a dedicated website for bookings and phone consults. Initially I was consulting via my regular daytime practice - but the massive demand soon hit tsunami proportions when the proposed nicotine law changes were announced in June. Within days, the usually-calm reception staff had a panicked look as the phone wouldn't stop ringing.
People from all around Australia were calling, desperately needing to discuss getting a nicotine script. Extra staff were put on to manage the calls. My other regular patients had no hope of seeing me. It got pretty crazy pretty quickly!
So www.medicalnicotine.com.au was born, and had its maiden voyage launch just last week. You can book and pay online
Many of you have asked if I'll still keep prescribing next year with the legislation changes. Short answer is - yes. Obviously it's unclear what Greg Hunt is proposing, and I'm anticipating further hoops to jump through in relation to script approvals and who can import. But I'll remain committed to providing access to nicotine legally, if it's the only thing stopping you returning to smoking.
Am looking forward to 'meeting' many more of you in the coming months. Stay safe!