Doctors are urging the Australian government to open up access to electronic cigarettes due to the positive health impact the device have on smokers.
Vaping devices are legal in the country, however, the liquid nicotine used in e-cigarettes are banned, leaving a legal gray area for smokers trying to give up the habit. Doctors in the country and representatives of British American Tobacco addressed a federal parliamentary committee Wednesday to highlight the health benefits of vaping and how continued restrictions harm overall public health, The Australian Associated Press reported Wednesday.
Australian doctors note the positive impact vaping has had on the smoking populations in the U.K. and U.S., where smoking rates are declining.
“It’s very important, in harm reduction and public health generally, to have your intervention (be) attractive to the people most at risk,” Dr. Alex Wodak, head of the Australian Drug Law Reform Foundation, said Wednesday, according to The Australian. “I think having a vibrant vaping community network, through the distribution of vaping shops, is very important from a public health perspective.”
Major health groups in England, like the Royal College of Physicians, agree that using e-cigarettes eliminates most of the harms attributed to smoking. They also recommend vaping to patients trying to quit traditional tobacco products. Wodak cited a study from Public Health England showing vaping eliminates up to 95 percent of the risk associated with cigarettes, because the majority of cancer-causing chemicals are inhaled through smoke.
A study commissioned by the European Union in 2014 found roughly six million European smokers had quit cigarettes by using vaping devices.
“The reality is that many smokers are unable or unwilling to quit,” Colin Mendelsohn, a public health professor, said Wednesday, according to The Australian. “We can’t just sacrifice them.”
Proponents of vaping argue critics are ignoring the positive impact the devices are having on current smokers. Public health experts also note vaping devices offer smokers a viable way to reduce second-hand health risks to those around them.
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