A new Australian Parliamentary Inquiry into Tobacco Harm Reduction has been established to review the future of vaping nicotine in Australia. International and Australian vaping supporters are invited to make submissions which are due by 5 November 2020. The Inquiry is critical for reversing the increasing restrictions on vaping being imposed by the federal Health Minister, Greg Hunt. In stark opposition to the rest of the western world, access to liquid in Australia is being reduced even further.
Australia’s 300,000 vapers were shocked, angry and frightened last week when the Health Minister announced a ban on importing nicotine liquid into Australia with two weeks’ notice and a penalty of AUD$220,000 per offence.
Vapers who had struggled to quit smoking for years and finally found a safer alternative faced the repulsive choice of going back to smoking or purchasing nicotine on the blackmarket. Chat groups were flooded with distressed vapers and panic buying was unprecedented. Retail shops were expected to close.
This was a potential disaster for public health. I saw 15 vapers the next day. Thirteen said they would revert to smoking if they could not get nicotine. Some would try to quit and the rest would seek nicotine on the blackmarket.
Australia has long been the only western democracy to ban the sale and use of nicotine for vaping. Importation for personal use has been allowed if the user has a doctor’s prescription. However, prescriptions are very hard to get and vapers have been illegally, but safely, importing personal supplies for years.