Bold vaping reforms a breath of fresh air

Sweeping reforms to vaping products announced by the government his week were hailed as “world-leading” by the AMA which said they would help deter more wide-spread uptake of vaping and smoking.

AMA President Professor Steve Robson said banning the retail sale of vapes would help to prevent children and younger people taking up vaping and developing a nicotine addiction.

“We are very pleased to see a ban on all vapes, including recreational vapes, outside of them being prescribed by a doctor as part of a safe and reliable strategy to help people stop smoking.

“There is a growing list of health harms posed by vaping while there is insufficient evidence vapes are a safe, effective smoking cessation tool.

“The pharmaceutical packaging, ban on flavours and colours and reduced nicotine concentration for vaping products are bold measures and essential to this reform, placing Australia in a world-leading position when it comes to keeping vapes out of community.”

Professor Robson told the Sunrise program young Australians are the main users of vapes, and the health minister's announcement would help stamp out the black market in vapes, by backing in the prescription-only model.    

"If you are going to vape it needs to be part of a step-down program coming off cigarettes and then ultimately off vapes, so that you are not inhaling anything dangerous at all. Lord only knows what they contain,” he told SBS World News.

The AMA also supports an end goal of vapes being registered by the Therapeutic Goods Administration so vapes are adequately assessed for safety, quality, and efficacy, assuring doctors the products are as safe as they can be for patients needing them as a last-resort smoking cessation method.

Professor Robson told the Sydney Morning Herald, doctors preferred interventions other than vaping to help people quit smoking, but agreed a new portion of the population addicted to nicotine through vapes will need support to manage their addiction and the change would allow that.

“While the AMA is supportive of the plan to allow all GPs to prescribe vapes, we will need strong education and clear guidelines made available.”

The AMA particularly welcomed a reduction in nicotine levels in nicotine vaping products, which it sought in its submission to a Therapeutic Goods Administration consultation on vaping earlier this year.

The AMA also welcomed the increase on the tobacco tax, funding for lung cancer screening, a public campaign to raise awareness of vaping and smoking harms, quit programs, training and education, and more funding for the critical Tackling Indigenous Smoking program.

The Australian newspaper quoted Professor Robson saying enforcing the new rules and cracking down on the black market will be key to their effectiveness. “Governments and enforcement agencies at every level, across jurisdictions will need to be vigilant and work in concert.”

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