Nicotine for use in electronic cigarettes should be legalised in Australia to reduce smoking related disease, say 40 international and Australian experts in a document supporting an application to amend the Poisons Standard in relation to low concentrations of nicotine for use in vaping.
Smoking kills and Australia has 2.8 million smokers of which two out of three will die prematurely from smoking related diseases. According to Tobacco Treatment Specialist, UNSW Associate Professor Colin Mendelsohn smokers efforts in quitting are often met with repeated failure. ‘Using an e-cigarette can effectively satisfy the smoker’s need for nicotine as well as providing ‘a smoking experience’ which many smokers miss after quitting and which often leads to relapse’, says Mendelsohn.
The New Nicotine Alliance submitted an application to the Australian Therapeutics Goods Administration, a not for profit consumer advocacy group supporting public health, has to exempt low concentrations of nicotine for use in electronic cigarettes as a safer alternative to smoking.
A report commissioned by Public Health England states that the emergence of electronic cigarettes provides a radical alternative to tobacco, and evidence to date suggests that smokers are willing to use these products in substantial numbers. The opportunity to harness this potential into public health policy, complementing existing comprehensive tobacco control policies, should not be missed.
Professor John Britton, Chair of the Tobacco Advisory Group, Royal College of Physicians (UK) said ‘Nicotine itself is not a significant cause of disease and death. Allowing smokers easier access to nicotine products without the toxins in tobacco smoke could ultimately save millions of lives’.
‘Lifting the effective ban on low-risk nicotine products will allow Australian smokers to realise the health benefits this approach has already generated in Europe and the United States'.
Professor Ann McNeill, from Kings College London and lead author of the Public Health England evidence review on e-cigarettes, fully supports this proposal. ‘I just don’t understand the logic of having nicotine in the deadly form of tobacco cigarettes widely available, while nicotine in the much safer form of e-cigarettes is outlawed by the Poison Standard.’ The current situation in Australia protects the cigarette business, encourages smoking and increases the risk of disease’ she said.
Exempting low concentrations of nicotine for use in e-cigarettes from Schedule 7 would bring it within the jurisdiction of the Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC) under The Australian Consumer Law. This would ensure product safety and quality.
The document supporting the application to amend the Poisons Standard is available here.
Futher reading: Article in The Conversation