Frustrated Vapers Fight Back as Australia Mulls Ecig Rules
In November, Australia’s government health agency released proposed regulations for electronic cigarettes in a discussion paper that has created a firestorm of controversy. Since the paper was published, there have been more than 240 responses officially submitted, calling for government lawmakers to reconsider their stance and give ecigs a fair chance.
Vapers, health lobbyists, ecig manufacturers, and many small businesses released an outcry of accusations after the discussion paper came out. The Alcohol Tobacco and Other Drugs Association (ATODA) criticized health officials for ignoring the many potential benefits of vaping, particularly for smoking cessation. ATODA chief executive Carrie Fowlie said the government is pushing out false information as fact and ignoring research.
She said there is no real evidence that ecigs could lead to an increase in tobacco use. “Given the lack of evidence relating to renormalizing cigarette smoking, the assumptions underpinning this section are questionable,” she said. Fowlie explained that ATODA supports limiting ecigs to adults age 18 and over and they would also like to see vending machine sales banned.
Local businesses are also frustrated because they believe regulations could ultimately keep smokers using cigarettes. The manager of Outback Vape Café said, “It is concerning, however, that PVs (personal vaporizers) are being viewed by government agencies as having similarities to tobacco products and therefore inherently carry with them potential harms to the community that are comparable to tobacco cigarettes.”
He went on to explain that vaporizers and e-cigs are actually quite different from tobacco products. “My business is not a business which is funded by big tobacco and therefore I refute the claim that PVs are just a way for tobacco companies to pick up on lost profits from cigarette sales.”
Ecig maker Nicoventures said regulations are needed, but they must be made with the goal of helping smokers rather than jeopardizing their access to safer alternatives. Regulatory Affairs director Stephen Jenkins said, “The fact that there have been a vast number of submissions shows the need for the government to act and make e-cigarettes legally available to smokers wishing to quit or reduce their tobacco intake.”
Jenkins said ecigs deserve to be treated as a separate product rather than lumped in with tobacco. “As e-cigarettes don’t contain any tobacco, and do not create smoke they shouldn’t be treated in the same way as tobacco, for example subject to smoke-free areas.”
For now, Australia’s lawmakers are holding off on any official policy changes until further review is complete. In this case, the public outcry was effective and lawmakers are taking notice. Do you think global health officials are starting to reconsider their stance on e-cigarettes? Is the tide finally shifting?