TCCI calls for greater awareness of vaping as a quit smoking tool

TCCI calls for greater awareness of vaping as a quit smoking tool

E-cigarettes will become prescription only in October this year, leading Tasmania’s peak business organisation to call for greater education on vaping as a way to quit smoking.

The Therapuetic Goods Administration has essentially made it illegal to import nicotine vaping liquid without a doctor’s prescription.

Tasmanian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Michael Bailey said the state government needed to educate the public about these changes to the laws, and should prioritise vaping a as a quit-smoking medicine.

He said said smoking was a drain on public health resources and personal finances, which had flow on impacts to the economy.

“In Tasmania there are a significant number of people who currently vape as a less harmful alternative to traditional cigarettes. These people will soon be told they can’t import their vapes from overseas, but will soon be required to get a prescription to access this less harmful product,” Mr Bailey said.

“Given this, it is appropriate that the community is aware of the changes that will occur,” he said.

“It just makes common-sense … that smokers be made aware of its potential availability as a less harmful alternative, and smoking cessation aid.”

Mr Bailey said Tasmania had the highest rates of smoking in Australia and its long-term decline in smoking rates had slowed drastically.

“There is a significant body of work, including from Public Health England, that suggests that nicotine vaping is up to 95 per cent less harmful than traditional cigarettes. Importantly, there is growing evidence the vaping and e-cigarettes are a very effective smoking cessation tool – for example, they were a major driver in a 20 per cent reduction in smoking rates in the UK, according to the Royal College of Physicians of London.”

“The amount of money that Phillip Morris and others are putting into vaping is probably a little bit perverse, in the fact that it might actually be trying to sustain both their combustible and non-combustible products longer term,” he said.

SmokeFree Tasmania north member Harley Stanton said he was skeptical about the effectiveness of vaping as a quit-smoking tool.

“The amount of money that Phillip Morris and others are putting into vaping is probably a little bit perverse, in the fact that it might actually be trying to sustain both their combustible and non-combustible products longer term,” he said.

Health minister Jeremy Rockliff would not be drawn on TCCI’s call for an education campaign on the changes.

He said e-cigarettes were unregulated until the introduction of state legislation in 2017.

“The Tasmanian Government introduced changes on the advice of health experts, which has ensured some regulation of the use, promotion and sale of e-cigarettes. The Tasmanian Government will continue to follow the recommendations of the World Health Organisation and the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council to introduce a regulatory framework.”

By Isabel Bird for The Advocate, 3 August 2021