Disturbing newspaper revelations about how vaping manufacturers and sellers are targeting young non-smokers are just more evidence of why the liquid nicotine market must be regulated.
“The Queensland and federal governments have announced plans, which we have welcomed,” AMA Queensland President Dr Maria Boulton said.
“But we need to see those plans put into action immediately. It’s appalling to see vapes being sold online by unscrupulous retailers who even offer $20 discounts for social media likes.
“Vaping and e-cigarettes are a national health crisis. Liquid nicotine is an incredibly addictive substance with no proven health advantages.
“This is not the fault of our kids. Vapes have been designed to addict them, with their cartoon character packaging and sweet flavours. These are targeted at kids who would never touch a tobacco cigarette, but now they are addicted to nicotine.
“We applaud the Queensland government’s proposal for a Commonwealth taskforce because we need all levels of government to work together to combat the illegal importation and sale of liquid nicotine products, and to ban packing and flavourings that are clearly targeted at children.
“The federal government has already made liquid nicotine a prescription-only medication. The state government must ensure that doctors are the only practitioners who can prescribe.
“There is little evidence to support the efficacy of e-cigarettes and vapes as a quit aid for people who are addicted to smoking. Having a conversation with your GP about smoking and vaping is so important in finding ways to make sustainable long-term decisions about smoking and vaping.
“The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has not approved any liquid nicotine products for use as a cessation aid. E-cigarettes are not a first-line weapon in helping smokers quit. They are not even second or third line weapons against nicotine addiction.
“GPs who prescribe liquid nicotine have undergone special training. While this requirement is being phased out by the federal government, it is important to keep medical oversight of nicotine prescribing.
“GPs have no financial incentive to prescribe nicotine products as they do not sell them, so there is no conflict of interest or opportunity for Big Tobacco to offer inducements.”
AMA Queensland Vice President Dr Nick Yim trained as a pharmacist before undertaking a medical degree and training as a GP.
“I regularly visit schools in the Fraser Coast area and the single biggest issue teachers and students raise with me is vaping,” Dr Yim said.
“School students feel unsafe going to the toilets and walking into a wall of vape fumes. Teachers are dealing with children who are suffering nicotine withdrawals.
“The Guardian reported in July this year that tobacco giant Philip Morris International (PMI) has made deals with pharmacies to supply its VEEV vaping products below cost, on the condition they sign a supply agreement with PMI directly.
“In August last year, News Corp revealed PMI was offering pharmacists a $275 payment to order its VEEV products, as well as a $5 fee for referring a customer to a GP for a vaping prescription, a $10 fee for educating a new patient about the VEEV device, and a $5 dispensing support payment every time they dispense a new script.
“This was a disgraceful attempt to exploit the justified trust the community has in their local pharmacist and was rightly shelved after a public outcry.
“We need assurances that smokers looking to quit are supported to access their GP for help, and we need to keep vapes out of the hands and lungs of our kids.
“We cannot afford to allow a new generation to become addicted to nicotine.”