A major cancer group is advising smokers in Australia ignore overseas research on electronic cigarettes and to stay away from vaping until regulators can get the “whole picture” of its impacts.
Cancer Council Australia said there is “convincing evidence” that using a nicotine vape leads to the use of combustible cigarettes, warning smokers in the country to be be wary of the devices if they are trying to quit. Paul Grogan, director of advocacy for Cancer Council Australia, says their organization advocates waiting for further research into nicotine vapes before legalizing the products, reports The Daily Advertiser.
The “gateway” theory that vaping leads to smoking was previously debunked in a collaborative study by researchers at the University of Stirling and Public Health England; however, tobacco control crusaders continue to push the myth.
Grogan says Cancer Council Australia defers to the National Health and Medical Research Council and the Therapeutic Goods Administration, which are currently adversarial to the vaping industry, when it comes to the health impacts of vaping and the efficacy of the devices as a cessation tool for smokers. (RELATED: Anti-Vaping Efforts Aided By ‘Fawning’ Media Are ‘A National Disgrace’ Putting Smokers’ Lives At Risk)
While vapor devices themselves are legal in the country, the Therapeutic Goods Administration classifies liquid nicotine as a poison. Meanwhile, cigarettes remain legal and smoking rate declines in Australia have plateaued due to the restricted access to alternative technologies.
Fines for being caught with liquid nicotine range from $1,500 to $7,773 Australian dollars in all parts of the country except for West Australia, where vapers face a fine of $45,000 Australian dollars.
Public health experts recently criticized current tobacco control policies from Australia’s Department of Health and the Australian Medical Association as “seriously flawed” and harming overall public health in the country.
Colin Mendelsohn, associate professor and tobacco treatment specialist at the University of New South Wales, argued in a Jan. 15 editorial for The Australian that federal regulators in Australia are largely relying on studies that are adversarial towards vaping, ignoring the larger body of research showing their immense benefit as a cessation tool.
Mendelsohn laments how the Australian stance on vapor products stands in “stark contrast” to the health care bodies of the United Kingdom. The U.K. currently has the second lowest smoking rate in all of Europe, and officials say vaping is a big part of the reason. (RELATED: Scientist Finds ‘No Evidence’ Vaping Is Causing Long-Term Health Problems)
“It is time for Australia to follow the lead of similar countries,” Mendelsohn says in the editorial. “Australia needs to embrace the new paradigm of vaping and leave the prohibitionist, abstinence-only policy (‘quit or die’) in the past where it belongs. The lives of hundreds of thousands of Australian smokers depend on it.”
The Royal College of Physicians agrees that using e-cigarettes eliminates most of the harms attributed to smoking. The medical body also recommends vaping for patients trying to quit traditional tobacco products. Vaping eliminates up to 95 percent of the risk associated with cigarettes because the majority of cancer-causing chemicals are inhaled through smoke, according to Public Health England.
Many smokers in Australia are ignoring the law and using e-cigarettes to attempt quitting, but they still run the risk of legal trouble. Vapers in Australia say they feel like their government is persecuting them for making a health conscious choice.
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