On 25 May 2017, the Minister for Health, Aged Care and Sport, The Hon Greg Hunt MP, referred an inquiry into the Use and Marketing of Electronic Cigarettes and Personal Vaporisers in Australia to the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport (Health Committee). This enquiry is still outstanding after more than 300 submissions and two public hearings.
In the mean-time a bill was introduced to the Senate Standing Committees on Community Affairs to essentially legalise nicotine in vapour products. This bill is called
Vaporised Nicotine Products Bill 2017
The Bill also seeks to exclude e-cigarettes from regulation by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) in order to legalise e-cigarettes in Australia.
67 submissions and 2023 forms were received for the committee to consider. Sadly, your personal success stories of vaping and detailed supportive submissions from harm reduction advocates such as Dr Colin Mendelsohn & Clive Bates, were largely ignored. Instead, the committee referred heavily to input from State Governments, AMA and Australia’s Department of Health (DoH) submissions. With defacto bans already in place for nicotine e-cigarettes in Australia you can already assume a negative outcome for the “pro-vapers”.
Advocating for legalising nicotine e-liquid should be easy, right? Especially when you can point out the obvious inconsistencies and population health benefits such as;
- Australian legislation currently grants monopoly to cigarettes, giving privileged market access to the most dangerous products, at the same time blocking access for products that are, beyond reasonable doubt, much lower in risk.
- E-cigarettes are being used almost exclusively by confirmed smokers who are trying to reduce harm to themselves or others from smoking, or to quit smoking completely.
- E-cigarettes are legally available in the UK, EU and US and are being legalised in Canada and NZ.
- No evidence of re-normalisation of smoking.
- Negligible risk to bystanders.
- Manufacturers do not make therapeutic claims, therefore is a consumer product.
Great! Legalise nicotine liquid tomorrow and watch the smoking rates plummet! No, No, No, that’s not going to fly with this committee, they need a submission with strong, factual rebuttals to reject this bill and continue with the bans. Unable to actually find one, they settle on DoH’s “paper of many fears and concerns”, unfortunately it contains a lie or two, never mind, here is the recommendation;
2.57 The committee recommends that the Senate does not pass the Bill until
further scientific evaluation of the efficacy and safety of e-cigarettes and related
products has been undertaken.
How does a committee reach such a decision? In their submission, the DoH has this sentence;
“On the basis of currently available evidence, the relative safety of e-cigarettes compared to tobacco smoking cannot be scientifically established.6“
One sentence destroys the bill. This one sentence puts vaping on par with smoking. Smoking frequently results in death, the weight of this statement was heavy enough for the committee to use as the main reason to reject the bill. Remember this statement that your own “health department” have published, in the future they must be held accountable! Is it a straight out lie?
The reference number 6 tagged on what I call “the death sentence” refers to WHO’s FCTC COP 7/11 document, it actually states the following;
“The magnitude of these risks is likely to be smaller than from tobacco smoke, although there is not enough research to quantify the relative risk of ENDS/ENNDS over combustible products. Therefore, no specific figure about how much “safer” the use of these products is compared to smoking can be given any scientific credibility at this time. Existing modelling studies indicate, however, that in order for there to be a potential population-wide net health benefit from ENDS/ENNDS at present usage rates, these products would need to be at least three times “safer” than cigarettes”
Basically what they were saying back at COP7 is that risk to the user is likely smaller but we’re not keen on putting a figure to it, but if we find out that its at least 3 times safer than cigarettes then we’ll say they’re ok. A vastly different statement that DoH’s hack of a reference, wouldn’t you say ? I would call it unethical in the least, inhumane and possibly malpractice? What do you think ?
On another note, why are cigarettes excluded from any nicotine scheduling and allowed on the free market. The committee reached this conclusion;
“2.12 The Explanatory Memorandum states that the effect of the Bill is to exclude e-cigarettes and related products from regulation by the TGA. It notes that this exclusion will make the treatment ofe e-cigarettes consistent with the existing exclusion of conventional cigarettes from regulation by the TGA. The department noted that, having searched the minutes of the relevant decision-making bodies, the reasoning why nicotine in tobacco was excluded from regulation under the Poisons Standard is undocumented”
UNDOCUMENTED! Hope that clears it up for you.
Meanwhile the WA Government are worried about standards if the TGA arent tasked to “babysit” e-cigs;
“2.23 The Western Australian Government raised similar concerns, noting that it is illegal to sell electronic cigarettes containing nicotine in Western Australia and other jurisdictions.In particular, the Western Australian Government was concerned that if e-cigarettes were removed from regulation by the TGA, that there would be no alternative standards or regulatory schemes which would provide appropriate standards for formulation, packaging, labelling or quality of the products.”
ITS CALLED CONSUMER LAW! Hello? is there anyone there?
Amazingly the DoH make one correct statement in recognising that e-cigs are NOT tobacco products, but then back it up with the ‘ol “looks like smoking” pearler! Well der, water looks like Vodka too!
In my opinion, besides the lack of tobacco tax from vaping, this is actually what it all boils down to, Public Health and Tobacco Control cannot stand the sight, or even the thought of human beings “puffing” on anything, even if it’s harmless, the user’s health has nothing to do with it.
2.40 The department noted that e-cigarettes and related products may not be
encapsulated by the TAP Act, as it contains no tobacco and thus may not be
considered a ‘tobacco product’ for the purposes of the Act. However, it noted that the
physical appearance and action of using an e-cigarette resembles a traditional
cigarette, and may re-normalise smoking in young people.
Then there is this gem;
2.44 The committee supports the Australian Government’s current harm reduction
approach, and supports the department’s undertaking to monitor the situation closely
and review the tobacco control framework as needed while ensuring consistency with
Australia’s international obligations.
Australia’s current harm reduction approach;
“includes measures that supported reductions in both demand and supply of e-cigarettes.”
My brain hurts every time i read that, yes, these people are responsible for Australia’s population health!
Your IQ insults continue to flow throughout the document, again with the TGA;
“2.49 The committee is particularly concerned by the department’s advice that the
proposed amendments would result in nicotine packaged for e-cigarettes being
unscheduled, meaning that the TGA could not evaluate any nicotine-containing
e-cigarettes for their quality, safety and efficacy as a therapeutic good. The committee
believes that the TGA should maintain its ability to evaluate the quality, safety and
efficacy of e-cigarettes.”
The whole point of unscheduling is because nicotine is not medicine, its not claiming to cure a disease, there is no therapeutic claim to be made. Vaping is simply a far safer way to consume nicotine when compared to smoking! The fact that a lot of vapers stop buying cigarettes is because they become obsolete.
Attached to the recommendation were some notes from Labor & Liberal parties. I strongly recommend reading the stark differences and allowing it to sway your voting preferences!
Australian Labor Party Senators’ Additional
1.1 Labor Senators note that the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and
the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) have reviewed the
evidence around e-cigarettes in recent months, and recommended against changes to
1.2 Labor Senators are alarmed that both Senator Leyonhjelm (via this bill) and
the Minister for Health (via the House Health Committee) are attempting to subvert
these recommendations. 15,000 Australians a year still die from smoking-related
disease, and anything that reduces tobacco regulation or re-normalises smoking would
add to this tragic toll.
1.3 Labor will continue to follow the advice of the independent experts at the
TGA and NHMRC on this issue
Liberal Democratic Party Dissenting Report
1.1 Reducing smoking saves lives.
1.2 Notwithstanding plain packaging and the highest rates of tobacco taxation in
the world, and contrary to the long term trend of declining smoking rates in Australia
over previous decades, the rate of smoking in Australia has plateaued.
1.3 In contrast, the rate of smoking continues to decline in other countries, the UK
and USA included, where plain packaging and such high taxation are not found.
1.4 The key difference between these countries and Australia is the availability of
nicotine alternatives, in particular e-cigarettes.
1.5 While e-cigarettes are a relatively recent innovation, the effect on smoking
rates of an acceptable nicotine alternative can be seen in Sweden, where the rate is just
5% (compared to 14% in Australia). This is attributed to the longstanding availability
of snus, a form of powdered tobacco from which nicotine is absorbed orally.
1.6 Australia’s prohibition policy towards e-cigarettes prevents Australian
smokers from accessing a means of quitting smoking which is proving effective in
1.7 Anecdotal evidence from Australians who are privately importing e-cigarettes
and liquid nicotine indicates the same success would be seen in Australia if they were
1.8 Private imports are denying Australian retailers an opportunity to generate
sales, and the Australia government an opportunity to collect tax revenue.
1.9 New Zealand has recently decided to legalise the sale of e-cigarettes.
Australia’s continuation of a prohibition policy will be impossible to enforce.
1.10 The prohibition policy is costing lives; lives would be saved if e-cigarettes
were widely available.
1.11 The Bill should be passed.
You can read the full report for yourself at the link below, however have a bucket on standby.
Want to know who the clever folks on the committee were?