AMA praises decision to close vaping loophole

26 Nov 2020

An interim decision to make nicotine for use in e-cigarettes available in Australia, but only with a doctor’s prescription, will help make vaping products harder to access, AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has proposed amendments to clarify that nicotine products for e-cigarettes can only be imported for use when prescribed by a doctor.

Dr Khorshid said evidence that vaping is effective as a quit smoking aid is inconclusive, but there is plenty of evidence that it causes harm. This includes the harm to adolescent brain development, impacts of the carcinogens, including formaldehyde and solvents, contained within nicotine vaping products, and the evidence that vaping can lead to previous non-smokers taking up tobacco smoking.

“The proposed change will stop people accessing nicotine for any use without a prescription, and will ensure that patients see their doctor for advice on the most reliable and safe smoking cessation methods,” Dr Khorshid said.

“While doctors are overwhelmingly reluctant to prescribe nicotine, the AMA anticipates an influx of patients asking their doctors for nicotine prescriptions for vaping when the changes come into effect, spurred on by a tiny but vocal minority of vaping advocates, backed by Big Tobacco.

“Doctors will need clear and well-communicated guidance on appropriate dosages and recommended timeframes for use. The AMA recommends including a time limit for prescribing these products to ensure that patients who do not intend quitting cannot have access to an ongoing supply.”

The AMA submission to the TGA is available here.

Dr Khorshid also gave evidence to the Senate Select Committee Inquiry into Tobacco Harm Reduction, which is examining the treatment of nicotine vaping products in developed countries similar to Australia, and any impacts on smoking rates.

The AMA submission to the Inquiry is available here.

Read the full media release here.