Aussie vape backdown encouraging, but time for regulation
News that Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt is delaying the ban of imported nicotine vaping products for personal use into Australia for another six months - until 1 January 2021 – is being welcomed by the Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy (AVCA).
“This is a huge win for vapers across Australia and every smokefree advocate who voiced their opposition to the rushed and non-sensical approach,” says Nancy Loucas, co-director of AVCA - New Zealand’s vaping consumer advocacy organisation.
“But the fight is by no means over. With the Federal Government backing down, Australians now have the best opportunity to push for the legalisation and regulation of nicotine vaping. It’s well overdue!”
After Mr Hunt unilaterally announced the 1 July ban on nicotine imports a week ago, the backlash was swift and severe including a revolt from Government MPs, two of which set up a petition which attracted over 60,000 signatures in just two days.
At the time AVCA described the ban, which would’ve also made the current mandatory prescriptions for nicotine vaping near impossible, as appalling public policy.
“Cigarettes kill 21,000 Australians a year and are freely available on every corner of Australia without prescription. Yet the tobacco industry maintains protection from the Federal Government. Things need to change before more Australian lives are lost!”
She says Australia’s 300,000-strong vaping community now has six months to convince their legislators to come up with a risk-proportionate regulatory framework and guidelines for consumer access to nicotine vaping – work which New Zealand is in the process of completing.
“Rather than just delaying the inevitable, the time has come for Australia to legislate nicotine vape products, which are considerably safer than tobacco, as a legitimate consumer good with all the relevant product safety provisions and stringent youth protections.
“I encourage Australian smokefree advocates and vapers to check out the vaping bill currently before New Zealand’s Parliament. It’s certainly not perfect, but it will keep Kiwis off cigarettes and save citizens’ lives – something every country should be doing,” says Nancy Loucas.
AVCA was formed in 2016 by vapers across New Zealand wanting their voices heard in local and central government. All members are former smokers who promote vaping to help smokers quit - a much less harmful alternative to combustible tobacco products. AVCA does not have any affiliation or vested interest in industry - tobacco, pharmaceutical and/or the local vaping manufacturing or retail sectors.