The federal Department of Health recently outlined its decision on the new vaping policy. Unfortunately, the report is seriously flawed and may be harmful to public health. The Department of Health and the Australian Medical Association policies are in sharp contrast to the policies published by Public Health England and the British Medical Association.
Although claiming otherwise, they both have ignored most of the evidence supporting vaping. They highlighted the tiny potential risks of vaping, but ignored the huge potential benefits of public health.
Vaping is potentially a life-saving technology.
Despite repeated attempts, many smokers are unable or unwilling to give up smoking. Vaping can meet the needs of smokers in terms of nicotine consumption and provides a “smoking experience” without the vast majority of harmful constituents found in tobacco smoke. About 250,000 Australians are using e-cigarettes now.
Let’s take a look at some of the most serious flaws in the Health Department’s argument:
The policy relies heavily on reports which are all against using e-cigarettes and supports its entrenched views. However, it ignores credible reports and independent institutions like the UK Royal College of Physicians (RCP), Public Health England (PHE), Canadian Institute for Substance Use Research, the UK Centre for Tobacco and Alcohol Studies plus others which strongly support vaping.
Vaping is not harmless, but the scientific consensus is that it is much safer than smoking.
This is not surprising, since almost all the hazards of smoking are from the tar, carbon monoxide and other chemicals from burning tobacco. Vaporizers heat nicotine without burning so most of the 7000 toxins in smoking do not exist or exist in trace levels. After comprehensive assessments, the RCP and PHE concluded that the long-term risks of vaping are unlikely to exceed 5 percent of the risks of smoking. In fact, many studies have found that when smokers switched to e-cigarettes their health improvesd significantly.
Overseas experience and research shows that vaping is helping millions of smokers to quit. Otherwise many of them would not have succeeded. A 2014 study estimated that six million smokers in the European Union had quit with vaping. A large study of the American population showed that smokers who used e-cigarettes are 75 percent more likely to succeed than those who use other methods.
Vaping may undermine the decline in Australlian tobacco use according to the claim of he report. However, currently there is no such decline.
According to official figures, the smoking rate in Australia has been stagnant from 2013 to 2016, although the price of cigarettes in Australia is the highest in the world and the packaging is simple.
On the other hand, in many countries where using e-cigarettes is legal, smoking rates are continuing to decline. In some cases, smoking rates decline faster than ever before, and giving up smoking rates are higher than ever before. E-cigarettes are the most commonly used smoking cessation tool in Britain and America. The evidence suggests vaping is one of the reasons for the decline in smoking rates. The report argues that we should avoid any potential risk from vaping because there is still a lack of absolute certainty about security. As with all new drugs or treatments, the long-term effects of vaping are unknown; however, so far there is little evidence of serious harm from a decade of real-world use and from research up to four years ago. On the other hand, it is certain that smoking prematurely causes two-thirds of long-term users to die.
Vaping may create new smokers and discourage quitting according to the claim of the report. However, overseas experience shows the opposite.
Smoking rates overseas are continuing to decline and quit rates are rising and few non-smoking adults and young people are using e-cigarettes.
It is time for Australia to follow suit. In Britain, the European Union and the United States, vaping with nicotine is legal and widely used. Canada and New Zealand are legalising nicotine for vape purposes. Australia needs to accept the new vaping paradigm and leave the prohibitionist, abstinence-only policy in the past where it belongs. The lives of thousands of Australian smokers depend on it.
Ryan is a writer, editor and content creator who spends most of his time bringing the interesting, entertaining, original and well-written articles to vapers. He believes that vaping is not only a healthier alternative to smoking, but also a great experience of life.