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Oct-30-2018 13:43printcomments

Australia Agrees to Study Vaping Health Risks

Emerging evidence indicates e-cigarettes are less harmful to human health than smoking tobacco.

vaping Australia
PHOTO: Legalise Vaping Australia

(SALEM, Ore.) - The Ministry of Health in Australia has finally agreed to study vaping health risks. The study will be conducted by an independent inquiry with the aim of investigating the health risks posed by e-cigarettes. Currently, even the best vape juice is illegal in Australia. That’s because all nicotine-liquids are considered poisonous in Australia.

But, the country seems to be softening its stance on vaping. According to media reports, the move follows the concerted push by Liberal Party MPs to overturn the ban on e-cigarettes despite the opposition of their legalization by the previous inquiry by the parliament.

The issue was raised by several MPs in a party room meeting stating that there was support in the government to make nicotine-liquids legally available in Australia. According to the New South Wales Liberal Trent Zimmerman, making nicotine e-cigarettes legally available will assist millions of the smokers that are currently struggling to stop smoking tobacco and improve their lives’ quality.

Current Government’s Position on Vaping

According to the Australian Government Department of Health, the state wants to take a considered and informed approach towards e-cigarettes.

As such, it is monitoring the emerging evidence regarding their role in quitting smoking, safe, dual use with other tobacco products as well as concerns of their take-up by people that do not smoke.

The basis of the position of the government on e-cigarettes is the need to evaluate their overall impacts on public health including smokers and non-smokers.

Currently, the Commonwealth, territory governments, and state share the responsibility of e-cigarettes regulation. The existing regulatory framework is based on current laws and legislation that might not apply to therapeutic goods, consumer goods, poisons, and tobacco products.

Unlike e-cigarettes, all products for smoking cessation are lawfully available in Australia. However, the Therapeutic Goods Administration has evaluated them for efficacy and safety before registration. Application for registration by the Therapeutic Goods Administration has no restrictions. Nevertheless, the administration has not approved any e-cigarette so far. As such, even the most popular vape juice flavors remain illegal in Australia.

It Could Save Lives

According to Zimmerman, who is the chairman of the Parliament’s Health, Aged Care and Sports Committee, there was a division in the committee on the right and appropriate approach towards e-cigarettes regulation.

That’s because though there is emerging evidence regarding e-cigarettes, there are indications that they are less harmful to human health when compared to smoking.

The chair further stated that evidence shows that if people that have been smoking for a long time and struggling to stop smoking tobacco turn to vaping, their lives could potentially be saved.

However, the Health Minister in Australia, Greg Hunt, opposed the move to legalize e-cigarettes saying that local health groups will strongly do the same. Nevertheless, he agreed to set up an inquiry that will work independently to come up with scientific evidence regarding vaping and e-cigarettes. The National Center for Epidemiology and Population Health will probably undertake the research at the Australian National University.

Past Recommendations

After a year of inquiry into vaping, The Standing Committee on Health, Aged Care and Sport provided several recommendations. For instance, the committee recommended the need to make sale, purchase, and possession of e-cigarettes legal.

Nevertheless, the committee stated that this legalization ought to be aligned with the EU restrictions that include e-cigarettes sale prohibition to individuals below 18 years old. Their advertising and marketing, nicotine concentration limit, and safety measures among others should also be restricted as per the EU restrictions.

The committee also recommended that the government establish an institutional framework for the importation control, quality control and overall marketing of vape liquid and other vaping products. These recommendations were made after an inquiry that entailed collecting the views of different stakeholders who included medical practitioners and tobacco companies. The committee noted that there is evidence showing that e-cigarettes are less harmful when compared to conventional cigarettes. Nevertheless, the long-term impacts of continued e-cigarettes use have always raised concerns because they have not been used for long. Therefore, there is no adequate statistical data to depend on when making conclusive scientific results on the effects of vaping on human health.

Growing Vaping Popularity

While nicotine liquids and e-cigarettes remain illegal in Australia, more people are buying them online and using them. In fact, many vapers do not know that buying, using and possessing vaping products in Australia is technically illegal.

According to the Legalize Vaping Australia campaign manager, Brian Marlow, there is a report showing that vaping can reduce smoking rates. He adds that though vaping technology is not harmless, it is less harmful when compared to conventional smoking. That’s what the Legalize Vaping Australia campaign is trying to put across.

Brian added that he had met burly guys claiming to have been smoking up to two packs every day and quit within a week. Some almost shed tears while telling him how e-cigarettes saved them. Brian said that some people have become extremely passionate about vaping as seen from their testimonials when narrating how vaping has improved their physical functioning and health.

He said that though he does not vape, his attention was drawn to vaping by personal reasons and health perspectives. Generally, vaping is becoming increasingly popular across Australia following the revelation that it is less harmful than smoking.

News reports indicate that people are increasingly using e-cigarettes as a safe nicotine alternative. What’s more, increased production of vape flavors that both non-smokers and smokers find less offensive has contributed to this popularity.

Additionally, the fact that people can buy vaping products online and use them discreetly is increasing their popularity even in countries where their use is illegal.

Parting Shot

The decision to revisit the vaping issue shows that Zimmerman has prevailed on the Ministry of Health to have the current laws that govern e-cigarettes relooked.

The ministry will use the independent inquiry to give the current status of vaping regulation in Australia a better hearing. The debate that will arise from the findings of this inquiry will inform the government on the action to take on this issue.

Source: Special Features Dept.


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