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Australia's vaping laws are amongst the strictest in the world, and they may just be about to get stricter. Colin Mendelsohn discusses new regulations that will restrict flavours, disposables and nicotine liquid concentrations.


0:00 - Intro with Joanna Junak
0:56 - Australia cracks down on flavoured vapes
2:03 - 10% of Australian vapers say they're willing to get nicotine on prescription
2:52 - Vape shop closures on the horizon
3:54 - Health minister repeats false vaping/smoking claims
5:00 - Advocacy and consumer groups raise their voices
5:56 - Closing remarks


Hello and welcome. I'm Joanna Junak and this is GFN News on GFN.TV.

Australia's Health Minister, Mark Butler, has announced that the government will crackdown

on vaping to reduce harm among the younger generations.

The government is proposing stronger regulation and enforcement of all e-cigarettes, including

new controls on their importation, contents and packaging.

Joining us today to discuss this new plan is Dr Colin Mendelsohn, an academic and researcher

in tobacco treatment.

Hello Colin, it's nice to see you again on the programme. Can you tell us more about

the new regulations for vaping announced last week in Australia?

Hi Joanna. In Australia, vapers have needed a doctor's prescription to vape legally since

October 2021. Well, after 18 months, this has been a huge policy failure. It's almost

impossible for smokers to get a prescription and only 8% of vapers actually have one. And

this has created a huge black market selling unregulated, mislabelled, dodgy products to

adults and children.

Well, this week the Health Minister announced a doubling down on this flawed policy. He's

proposed a major crackdown at the border to prevent illegal imports and more policing

of black market sales. As well, there will be restricted flavours, reduced nicotine levels,

banning of disposables and a public health campaign to reduce vaping.

The timeline for these changes is unknown, but new legislation is needed and it will

probably take several months.

How will this impact vapers in Australia?

Well, this is a disaster for Australian vapers. Doctors are sceptical about vaping and it

will still be very difficult to get a prescription. Only 10% of vapers have said they're willing

to get one. There's very limited access to vapes in pharmacies and most have a very limited

range of suppliers. A recent survey found that 13% of vapers will go back to smoking.

Very few will get a prescription and most will continue to vape by accessing illicit

products from the black market. We don't know if vapers will still be able to import their

own supplies with a prescription under the personal importation scheme.

What other effects will these changes have?

Well, it's likely that hundreds of legal vape shops will be forced to close. This is

a tragedy, as vape shops provide valuable support and advice for smokers wanting to

switch to vaping. Thousands of staff will lose their jobs and we know that prohibition

doesn't reduce drug supply and we expect the black market to expand and continue to

supply dodgy products to youth as well as adults.

If vapers do get prescriptions, there will be an enormous additional cost to the government

for doctor visits, estimated to be about $1.5 billion per year.

So the big winners from these changes are the tobacco companies and the criminal gangs.

More cigarettes will be sold and more illegal, untaxed vapes will be freely available.

Why is the government making these changes?

The main driver of these changes is exaggerated fears and misinformation about youth vaping.

Despite the evidence to the contrary, the Health Minister believes that vaping is a

gateway to smoking and is addicting a new generation of young people.

He also maintains incorrectly that under-25s are smoking more, when in fact smoking rates

are actually declining more rapidly in that age group.

And that vaping is a big tobacco plot, and of course we know that's not true.

However the real reasons behind this decision I think are political, ideological, they involve

pressure from public health groups with a vested interest and protecting the $14 billion

tobacco tax income that the government gets every year.

That's Australia's fifth largest tax.

And how are vapers responding?

Well vapers are understandably devastated, they're anxious and angry.

A new vaper consumer group called Australian Smokefree Alternatives Consumers Association

is about to launch, and retailers have formed a new association, the Vaping Association

of Australia, and I'm sure they will help.

Legalised vaping has stepped up its advocacy as well.

But the most important thing vapers can do is to write to their local MPs and support

the association, and I hope as many as possible will do that.

We overturned draconian regulations in 2020, I think we can do it again if there's enough

pressure brought to bear on government this time, and that mostly needs to come from vapers.

Thank you Colin, looking forward to seeing you in Warsaw in June.

That's all for today.

Tune in next time here on GFN TV or on our GFN TV podcast.

And don't forget to register for the Global Forum on Nicotine Conference taking place

in Warsaw from 21st to 24th of June.

Thanks for watching or listening.

See you next time.