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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.

Under proposed customs changes, vapers will no longer be able to import nicotine liquid into Australia for personal use from 1 January 2021. A fine of $220,000 will apply for attempts to do so. Further regulatory changes will ensure nicotine liquid is classified strictly as a medicine.

Under this medical model, legal access to nicotine for vaping will only be available by visiting a doctor for a prescription and purchasing nicotine liquid from a pharmacy.  

The proposed regulations are not workable for Australia’s 520,000 vapers and amount to a de facto ban. The Australian Medical Association and many other health and medical organisations oppose vaping and it is likely that very few doctors will provide prescriptions. The Pharmacy Guild also has stated it will not support the sale of vaping products in pharmacies.

As a result, it will be far easier to access lethal tobacco cigarettes in Australia than a smokeless consumer alternative which is substantially safer and potentially lifesaving.

The complex regulations will discourage smokers from switching to vaping. The black market will continue to thrive and Australia will continue to fall further behind other western countries in reducing smoking.

Australia’s retail vape industry will also be decimated. Vape shops play a valuable role in helping smokers to quit. Staff are former smokers who vape and can give invaluable advice and support. Vape shops rely on e-liquid sales and will not survive without them.

The Senate Inquiry could be Australia’s last chance to prevent this public health catastrophe. Please consider making a short submission to help us prevent this madness from proceeding.

You can find out more on the Parliamentary Inquiry webpage here and further information for submitters is available here. Submissions can be lodged here.

Visit ATHRA’s blog on the Senate Inquiry for more.

Dr Colin Mendelsohn

Founding Chairman, Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association (ATHRA), www.athra.org.au