Australian Vapers Considered ‘Criminal For Quitting Smoking’

Steve Birr | Vice Reporter

Support is building in Australia to reconcile their laws on electronic cigarettes, which criminalize the possession of nicotine fluid used in vape devices.

Smokers looking to ditch cigarettes for a healthier alternative are legally allowed to buy vaping devices but are barred from using the fluid necessary to successfully quit. The government’s Therapeutic Goods Administration classifies liquid nicotine as a poison, and some officials argue full regulation of the products must be established before the fluid should be legalized in the country, reports ABC Australia.

Many smokers in the country are ignoring the law and using e-cigarettes to attempt quitting, but they still run the risk of getting into legal trouble. Vapers in Australia say they feel like their government is prosecuting them for making a health conscious choice.

“It’s legal to import the nicotine in Australia, but the moment you take possession of it, it becomes illegal,” Alison Paul, a smoker for 30 years who recently quit using a vape, told ABC Australia. “Basically I’m a criminal for quitting smoking the only way I could. There’s many people, particularly older people, who aren’t willing to break the law to be vaping nicotine. I’m firmly of the belief that the Government has got people’s lives in their hands right now.”

Doctors in the country and representatives of British American Tobacco addressed a federal parliamentary committee July 12 to highlight the health benefits of vaping and how continued restrictions harm overall public health. Australian doctors note the positive impact that vaping has had on the smoking populations in the U.K. and U.S., where smoking rates are declining.

A study commissioned by the European Union in 2014 found roughly six million European smokers had quit cigarettes by using vaping devices. A study from the University of California released Wednesday shows the rate of smokers quitting in the U.S. has recently increased due to the growing popularity of vaping.

Between 2014 and 2015, roughly 350,000 U.S. smokers quit cigarettes.

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