Daily Bulletin


Daily Bulletin

News

  • Written by Jody Morgan, Associate Research Fellow, University of Wollongong

Last week the federal government’s Office of Drug Control announced changes to the importation of nicotine-containing electronic cigarette fluids that will seriously affect the estimated 227,000 regular e-cigarette users in Australia.

From January 1, 2021, users will no longer be allowed to import nicotine-containing fluids for use in e-cigarettes, even if they have a prescription. The measures, which were initially set to come into force on July 1, 2020, are in addition to the existing domestic ban on sales of these products.

Read more: Twelve myths about e-cigarettes that failed to impress the TGA

When quizzed last week on the new rules, Health Minister Greg Hunt claimed “people can still bring them in if they have a prescription from their doctor”. But this is not strictly the case.

What do the new rules actually say?

From January 1, e-cigarette users will not only need a prescription from their doctor, they will also need a doctor who is willing and able to import the products on their behalf. This will require the doctor to have a permit to import nicotine as an unauthorised therapeutic.

It is hard to imagine many doctors will to go to these lengths to provide access to nicotine so their patients can continue vaping. As these regulations have only just been announced, there are currently no medical professionals in Australia with these permits already in place.

With doctors already hesitant to prescribe nicotine for vaping (there are only nine GPs on the Australian Tobacco Health Reduction Association’s list of known prescribers), it is unlikely there will be any who are willing to add the additional burden of applying for permits and organising importation.

Why the ban on nicotine vape fluid will do more harm than good Vaping has helped many smokers quit cigarettes, and there are fears they may go back to smoking. Thomas Peter/AAP Image

So, come January 1, what are Australians who use nicotine-containing e-cigarette fluids going to do?

Option one: vapers go “cold turkey” and give up nicotine altogether. Many vapers use e-cigarettes because they were unable to quit smoking using any other method, including nicotine replacement therapy. One study found 18% of ex-smokers who had switched to e-cigarettes were still smoke-free at the one-year mark, compared with 9.9% of those who had switched to nicotine patches.

Read more: It's safest to avoid e-cigarettes altogether – unless vaping is helping you quit smoking

Option two: vapers ignore the new regulations and attempt to continue importing their e-cigarette fluids. Besides risking a A$222,000 fine if caught, there are significant risks to buying e-fluids on the black market. There will be no warning labels or instructions for safe usage; nicotine levels may be unknown or inconsistent; and samples might be cut with dangerous substances, as in the case of the bootleg cannabis vape refills contaminated with vitamin E acetate that killed 60 people and hospitalised a further 2,558 in the United States last year.

Option three: vapers go back to smoking cigarettes, as a legal and more easily accessible source of nicotine. Current estimates are that e-cigarette use is 95% less harmful than smoking. There are fears among the vaping community that this will be the default option for many users, despite the increased health risks of smoking over vaping. Vapers who are worried they may turn back to cigarettes should consider asking their GP to help them devise a plan to stay away from smoking.

Why is the government doing this anyway?

The government’s rationale is twofold. First, it points to the increase in nicotine poisonings associated with e-cigarette fluids in the past few years in Australia, including the death of a toddler in Victoria in 2018.

But these cases, including the toddler’s tragic death, involved highly concentrated imported nicotine-containing fluids, purchased from overseas because of the existing domestic ban. Cracking down on legitimate imports would arguably make it more likely, not less, that users may end up accessing illicit e-cigarette fluids with little or no safety labelling.

The government’s second argument is the increasing use of e-cigarettes among US school students aged 14-18. But while there has indeed been an increase in vaping, smoking has declined among these age groups, so it is likely a case of experimentation, rather than vaping being a gateway to smoking.

Read more: Are e-cigarettes a gateway to smoking in 14-year-olds? New US data

There is a crucial distinction to draw here: if the new rule change is intended to restrict youngsters’ access to vaping, it is unlikely to succeed. E-cigarettes and e-fluids without nicotine will still be available at any tobacconist or vape store. The only banned products will be nicotine-containing e-fluids.

The rule change may be framed partly as a preventative move to protect young people from vaping. But the people most likely to be affected are those who have successfully used e-cigarettes to quit smoking.

For that reason, it’s my view the new rules will do more harm than good. I would urge the government to consider regulating nicotine-containing products rather than banning them.

A regulated e-cigarette fluid market should consider: limiting the maximum concentration of nicotine to 24 milligrams per ml; childproof packaging for all products, with dropper-style tops to prevent accidental exposure through spillage; and appropriate warning labels and ingredient lists.

Authors: Jody Morgan, Associate Research Fellow, University of Wollongong

Read more https://theconversation.com/why-the-ban-on-nicotine-vape-fluid-will-do-more-harm-than-good-141365

Writers Wanted

$7.6 billion and 11% of researchers: our estimate of how much Australian university research stands to lose by 2024

arrow_forward

Trump's TikTok deal explained: who is Oracle? Why Walmart? And what does it mean for our data?

arrow_forward

What Australian Casinos Can Learn from Online Casinos in New Zealand

arrow_forward

The Conversation
INTERWEBS DIGITAL AGENCY

Politics

Did BLM Really Change the US Police Work?

The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has proven that the power of the state rests in the hands of the people it governs. Following the death of 46-year-old black American George Floyd in a case of ...

a Guest Writer - avatar a Guest Writer

Scott Morrison: the right man at the right time

Australia is not at war with another nation or ideology in August 2020 but the nation is in conflict. There are serious threats from China and there are many challenges flowing from the pandemic tha...

Greg Rogers - avatar Greg Rogers

Prime Minister National Cabinet Statement

The National Cabinet met today to discuss Australia’s COVID-19 response, the Victoria outbreak, easing restrictions, helping Australians prepare to go back to work in a COVID-safe environment an...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Business News

How To Remove Rubbish More Effectively

It can be a big task to remove household rubbish. The hardest part is finding the best way to get rid of your junk. It can be very overwhelming to know exactly where to start with so many option...

News Company - avatar News Company

4 Tips To Pass Skills Certifications Tests

Developing the right set of skills is valuable not only to your career, but for life in general. You can get certified in these skills through obtaining a license. Without a certified license, y...

News Company - avatar News Company

How to Secure Home-Based Entrepreneurs from Cyber Threats

Small businesses are becoming a trend nowadays. The people with entrepreneurial skills and minds are adopting home-based businesses because of their advantage and ease of working from home. But...

News Company - avatar News Company



News Company Media Core

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion