Greg Hunt delivers death sentence to 300,000 Australian vapers

The Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association (ATHRA) has expressed its extreme disappointment in the plan announced today by Minister for Health, Greg Hunt to block the importation of nicotine for vaping, which delivers a death sentence for hundreds of thousands of Australian vapers and smokers.

Conjoint Associate Professor Colin Mendelsohn, Founding Chairman of ATHRA and said this is a devastating blow to smokers just trying to do the best thing for their health, forcing vapers back to smoking and denying Australia’s 3 million smokers access to a legitimate quitting aid.

“This is a cruel blow for Australia’s marginalised and disadvantaged communities which have far higher smoking rates and lower quit success than the rest of the community,” said Professor Mendelsohn.

“Australia‘s high cigarette prices cause serious financial stress in the population, especially now when unemployment levels are at record highs. Vaping is 90 percent cheaper than smoking and can reduce health and financial inequalities.

“For most, it will now be almost impossible to access nicotine and many vapers will have no choice but to go back to deadly smoking. Many will die as a result.

“On the other hand, there are no restrictions on the purchase of tobacco cigarettes which kill 21,000 Australians each year.”

Professor Mendelsohn said 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.

“It is unscientific and irrational to ban vaping nicotine which is a 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.

Professor Mendelsohn said that the UK Royal College of Physicians has concluded that long-term vaping is likely to be no more than 5 percent of the risk of smoking. Vaping is actively encouraged by Health Officials in the UK and New Zealand. Further leading scientific studies have also suggested that vaping is up to twice as effective as nicotine replacement products such as patches and gum.

“The reality is most smokers want to quit and try and fail repeatedly. Vaping provides an exit strategy and has helped millions of smokers to quit worldwide.

“It is morally wrong for Greg Hunt and 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.

“Anyone trying to access vaping will face fines of up to $220,000, which is just madness”.

ENDS
Contact
Conjoint Associate Professor Colin Mendelsohn M: 0415 976 783 | E: colin@athra.org.au

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