Why Greg Hunt’s plan to ban nicotine imports and medicalise vaping will not work
Posted on September 18, 2020
GREG HUNT wants to ban nicotine imports and force vapers to go to the doctor for a prescription and then to a pharmacy to purchase nicotine liquid. ATHRA believes nicotine liquid should be available for sale as a consumer product so it can be easily accessed as a quitting aid.
Today we sent this flyer Liquid nicotine. Prescription or consumer product? to all federal MPs and Senators explaining why this proposal must not go ahead.
Low concentrations of nicotine liquid are not medicines. They are a safer consumer product used to replace an existing consumer product, lethal cigarettes. Consumer products are regulated by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission which can provide strong protection to the public under consumer law.
It should be easier to access vaping products than deadly cigarettes. It makes no sense for people to go to a doctor and a pharmacist to get nicotine liquid, when cigarettes are available everywhere.
NO western country requires users to have a prescription for nicotine liquid for vaping
Subjecting every nicotine vaping liquid to a rigorous medicines-quality assessment when cigarettes are largely unregulated is irrational. Low concentrations of nicotine liquid in child-resistant containers are low-risk products which cause minimal harm and are lifesaving for many smokers.
A prescription model won’t work
- Vapers won’t do it. The current laws require vapers to have a prescription to import nicotine. ATHRA estimates that no more than 1-2% of vapers currently have a prescription.
- Doctors won’t do it. There are less than a dozen GPs in Australia who are willing write nicotine prescriptions and 520,000 vapers. Very few doctors understand vaping or know how to write a nicotine prescription.
- Pharmacists won’t do it. Pharmacists are not trained in vaping and cannot give advice to new users. The Pharmacy Guild does not support the sale of vaping products in pharmacies.
- Manufacturers won’t do it. Most products are made by small to medium businesses which do not have the expertise, experience or budget to conduct clinical trials and go through the costly and onerous regulatory process for every single product. The tobacco industry with its unlimited resources will take over the market.
Other harmful effects
- Providing prescriptions will add huge costs to Medicare. If 25% of vapers get an annual prescription, the cost to Medicare will be $14.6 million each year. If all current vapers comply, it will cost $60 million each year.
- The black market will thrive. Illegal suppliers will fill the gap with unregulated and unsafe products, happily sold to young people.
- Vape shops will be decimated. Vape shop staff have the experience and knowledge to help smokers make the transition to vaping nicotine. Vape shops survive on the sale of vaping liquids.
- Costs to vapers will increase from the costs of regulatory compliance, doctor fees and pharmacy markup.
- Product choices and flavours will be drastically restricted. Prefilled pods for popular pod models will most likely not be available.
Download and share the flyer
Posted by Colin Mendelsohn, firstname.lastname@example.org