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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.


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.