The Australian government say that a prescription-only nicotine model is the only way to allow safe access to vapes in the country. In this episode, Will Godfrey breaks down the reactions of leading THR professionals to the latest crackdown on vaping in Australia.
Chapters:0:00 - Intro with Joanna Junak 0:25 - Will Godfrey discusses the reactions of THR advocates to the latest vaping restrictions in Australia 1:32 - Disputed evidence of youth vaping used to support ban 2:30 - Only 9% of Australian vapers currently use prescription nicotine 3:06 - Prescription-only model will be a barrier to smokers looking to quit 4:43 - Closing remarks
Hello and welcome. I'm Joanna Junak and this is GFN News on GFN.TV. Today we'll
be speaking with Will Godfrey of Filter about tobacco harm reductionist reactions to new
vape restrictions in Australia. Hi Will. What new policies have been announced? Hi Joanna. Yes this
month the Australian government announced a widespread crackdown on vapes including a ban
on import and sales of all non-prescription devices and e-liquids. Vapes were already
technically prescription only in the country but in practice have been available in some stores.
The government as Ben Adlin reported for Filter says it will commit hundreds of millions of
dollars to quote stamp out the growing black market in illegal vaping. Specifics on enforcement and
penalties are still being worked out. Not content with that the government will further restrict
prescription vaping products in terms of flavours, nicotine levels and packaging and banning
disposables entirely. It claims however that it will make prescriptions easier to get by no longer
requiring prescribers to register with the government. Cigarettes will remain on shelves
of course though taxes will be hiked by five percent annually over three years as part of a
plan to reduce the affordability of tobacco. And what reasons has the Australian government
given for this move? No surprises here. A supposed youth vaping epidemic supported by a burgeoning
illicit vapes market is the principal target. Regardless of the decline in Australian youth
smoking Health Minister Mark Butler claims that youth who vape are three times as likely to take
up smoking. Researchers would dispute any implication of causation and such figures often
do little more than show that people who are more likely to use nicotine are more likely to use
nicotine. Australia needs to reclaim its position as a world leader on tobacco control Butler said.
Big tobacco has taken another addictive product wrapped it in shiny packaging and added flavours
to create a new generation of nicotine addicts. If the harms of cigarettes had originally been known
I would hope that governments would have snuffed it out immediately he added which is what I want
to do to vapes. So what has been the reactions from people in the tobacco harm reduction field?
They're appalled. Many point out that making vapes prescription only is an obstacle to smoking
cessation. Vapers have rejected the prescription model Australian advocate and physician Colin
Mendelsohn told Ben citing figures that only nine percent of Australians who vape have a prescription
and only eleven percent would be willing to get one if required. And he believes the pledge to
make prescriptions easier to get is no solution given the THR scepticism of Australian doctors
and medical associations. There's plenty to like about vapes being available on prescription as
Dave McIntosh of Knowledge Action Change expressed including affordability and reputational progress
but it's a barrier when prescriptions are the only form of access. Mendelsohn thinks some people will
return to smoking while most will just get vapes from the unregulated illicit market and speaking
of that illicit market both sides agree that it's grown a lot but not about what created it.
Advocate Clive Bates is in no doubt blaming quote Australia's zealous vaping control regime
for the expansion of this chaotic market that will serve teenagers with anything illicit.
The response of the architects of this mess is to press the government to ban harder
he continued. They have learned nothing and understand nothing about how all this works
in practice. He and others worry about what enforcement will look like too. The plan to hike
cigarette taxes has its own critics for burdening low-income populations that smoke most but cigarettes
will still be far more readily available than the safer alternative. Advocate Skip Murray was among
those to note that the plan hands a commercial advantage to the lethal way of consuming nicotine.
Not enough doctors are willing to prescribe vapor products she told Ben, not enough pharmacies are
willing to sell them and not enough people have access to health care. When peer countries like
the UK and New Zealand have taken drastically different pro-vape paths Australia's crackdown
stands out for all the wrong reasons. Thank you Will. 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.