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Australia’s Decision On Vaping, Appalling Public Policy

Aotearoa Vapers Community Advocacy (AVCA) has come out strongly in support of Australian vapers against a ban of imported nicotine vaping products for personal use into Australia, with or without a prescription.

“AVCA stands with our fellow vapers across the Tasman, as well as organisations such as ATHRA, PPHA, AVA and LVA in denouncing the senseless crackdown by the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA),” says Nancy Loucas, who is one of the co-founders and co-directors of AVCA - the vaping consumer advocacy organisation in New Zealand.

Next week, from 1 July, Australia’s Border Force will be stepping up enforcement activities and targeting vapers, with Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt leading the charge against e-cigarettes.

“It is astonishing that Hunt and his colleagues would go on a witch hunt of this magnitude knowing full well that across the Tasman, New Zealand is gearing up to legalise vaping and provide risk proportionate regulatory frameworks and guidelines for consumer access and availability to assist the thousands of smokers in Aotearoa/New Zealand,” says Ms Loucas.

She says the pending crackdown is in effect a total ban on e-liquid vaping in all of Australia, and will includes vapers who enter the country for work or holiday, as it will be presumed that any vape liquid will contain nicotine and therefore is a medicine and requires a prescription.

“Smokers in Australia have been denied access to a proven harm reduction tool. At the same time, vapers in Australia have yet again been dealt a potentially fatal blow which will see many of the 300,000 strong vaping community go back to smoking cigarettes.

The New Zealand vaping advocate says how anyone in a public health role could find this type of announcement and activity to be in the best interests of public health defies logic.

“Alarmingly, people’s human right to choose health is up for sale by those who only see the need to keep collecting the tobacco excise to bolster their coffers. It’s appalling public policy, particularly when we all know cigarettes kill 21,000 Australians a year, and are freely available on every corner of Australia without prescription.

According to the new regulatory framework, vapers will have to visit a GP, obtain a prescription and then obtain their vaping liquids from an approved medical dispensary. However, AVCA notes that very few Australian doctors are willing to write prescriptions for vaping.

Ms Loucas agrees especially with Brian Marlow, from Legalise Vaping Australia, when he said: “This will drive up the Medicare costs, and screw over regional and rural smokers and vapers who aren’t able to see a doctor as easily as these inner city policy makers can. Smoking rates in rural and regional areas are already through the roof, this will only make matters worse.”

Nancy Loucas says given the weight of overwhelming evidence in relation to the less harmful nature of vaping products, the only logical thing for Australia to do is appropriately legislate these products as a consumer good with all of the relevant protections that come with that – as New Zealand is now in the process of doing.

“Set to take effect in July, Australia’s latest regulations are absolutely abysmal,” she says.

About AVCA

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.

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