Writing for the Australian online news outlet News.Com Joe Hildebrand reported, “when I quit smoking last year, I got a message from Associate Professor Colin Mendelsohn from the School of Public Health at the University of NSW “Congratulations,” he said. “You’ve just added almost 10 years to your life.” He then added: “You’re also now a criminal.”
After smoking for 25 years and torn between the urge to smoke and the knowledge about the damage, Hildebrand was finally able to find a way of quitting that both satisfied the craving for nicotine while also being a literal life saver. Except in Australia, he is not only a criminal, but the laws are so insane that he might as well be Pablo Escobar. He writes, “...if you think the policy coming from the White House right now is confusing, try checking out Australian laws on e-cigarettes. They read like someone’s smoking more than tobacco”.
“For example in NSW it is legal to buy e-cigarettes but illegal to buy nicotine. However it is legal to use nicotine in your e-cigarette. In WA it is illegal to buy e-cigarettes but legal to use them. However it is illegal to buy nicotine — although legal to import it.
In fact even me writing this article is technically illegal. The NSW Public Health (Tobacco) Act 2008 — Section 15a prohibits any “writing, or any still or moving picture, sign, symbol or other visual image or message or audible message, or a combination of two or more of them, that gives publicity to, or otherwise promotes or is intended to promote the purchase or use of an e-cigarette”.
I’m not just a criminal, I’m a crime lord”.
He goes on, “ The giant gaping chasm of logic at the heart of these arguments (against e-cigarettes) is that the impact of nicotine in e-cigarettes is constantly measured against non-smokers instead of those already busily killing themselves with the real deal — namely the very people they are intended for.
Because even if the worst is true about e-cigarettes they still only cause one-twentieth of the harm of actual cigarettes — WHICH ARE AVAILABLE IN EVERY CONVENIENCE STORE IN THE COUNTRY.
You can be as dumb as a box of hammers and still know that doesn’t add up”
The article was prompted by the upcoming decision by the Therapeutic Goods Administration about the legality of nicotine in e-cigarettes. You can guess which way it went. https://www.tga.gov.au/book-page/21-nicotine
In the UK, the parliamentary group concerned with smoking and health have just published Burning injustice: reducing tobacco harm and inequality.
In his Foreword, Bob Blackman MP says “ In her first major speech as Prime Minister, the Rt Hon Theresa May said that she committed to fighting against “the burning injustice that if you’re born poor you will die on average nine years earlier than others”. This objective cannot be achieved without further progress in reducing smoking prevalence. Reducing smoking prevalence is also essential to the sustainability of public services, and delivers value for money to national and local Government by reducing costs to the NHS and the social care system, and increasing productivity”.
Nothing to argue with there, except despite the expert endorsement of Public Health England and the Royal College of Physicians as to the evidence for e-cigarettes as a significant tobacco harm reduction intervention, there is not a single mention of this in the whole report. Stranger still when you consider that Action on Smoking and Health (ASH) who funded the MPs' report and gave evidence, produced a briefing on e-cigarettes only a year ago in which they said, “ One characteristic of electronic cigarettes which appears to make them effective is their ability to provide an approximation to the sensory aspects of the experience of smoking. This has been demonstrated by users exhibiting reduced cravings, withdrawal symptoms and number of cigarettes smoked per day even when given a placebo electronic cigarette. A related factor is the variety of products available which offer users different levels of nicotine and flavourings. Furthermore, electronic cigarettes are considerably cheaper than tobacco products which may motivate smokers to switch to these devices.” So better for health and potentially attractive to those on lower incomes.
In 1998 the UN ended its special session on drugs with the slogan, “a drug free world, we can do it”. They were careful not to say which world – Mars? Jupiter? But let's give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they meant good old planet Earth. It was of course, 'aspirational' as in 'we haven't got the faintest chance of pulling this off but it sounds good for the media'.
So we wait with bated breath for the outcome of the Finnish government's pledge to reduce the use of tobacco products down to 2% of the population (from the current 20%) by 2040. And e-cigarettes get swept up in this purge too. “We don't want to fall into the trap of other policies that have less harmful products," said health spokesman Kaari Paaso, who apparently fears that promoting other products will result in a new addiction for health officials to deal with in the future. "We want to phase out all products." And their main tactic seems to be price not only for consumers but also vendors. There's quite a high fee to license it and to sell it," Paaso said. “Any business wanting to sell tobacco must first apply and pay for a license, a one-off process, but an additional fee must be paid annually to cover the costs of surveillance officers in each municipality who will check that retailers are following the rules.”
The surveillance fee is the killer, calculated per checkout or cashier in any business and can be as high as €500 ($536) annually per checkout. By the looks of it, the only lighting up in Finland will be the eyes of the tobacco smugglers.
And finally...according to Yahoo News, Apple are looking to enter the e-cigarette market. No doubt they will develop a smart device so that as orchard aromas waft in the air, it will also check the fridge for milk and turn the house lights on. Oh yes, and you will pay extra for that vital component not included in the price.