Media release

Vaping crisis needs national approach

The state government's package of measures to crack down on vaping is welcome and must be backed with national action to maintain medical oversight of liquid nicotine prescribing.

The state government’s anti-vaping package is another good step towards tighter regulation of nicotine products that should only be available on prescription, AMA Queensland President Dr Maria Boulton said.

“Vaping and e-cigarettes are a national health crisis and we applaud the Queensland government’s proposal for a Commonwealth taskforce,” Dr Boulton said.

“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.

“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.

“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.

“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.”

See transcript: Dr Nick Yim, ABC Wide Bay

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