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'Australians now have chance to beat Big Tobacco'

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

"We’re pleased the Australian Minister of Health Greg Hunt has delayed banning the importation of all e-cigarette products containing nicotine by six months. Aussies now need to use this time to push for vaping regulation, as prohibition is a death sentence," says Vaping Trade Association of New Zealand (VTANZ) spokesperson Jonathan Devery.

Mr Devery’s comments follow the Australian Government delaying an importation ban of nicotine vaping products for personal use until 1 January 2021. The backdown follows intense lobbying from smokefree advocates and academics, and a petition launched last week by backbench Government MPs.

"Australia has higher smoking rates than New Zealand simply because it makes vaping incredibly hard to access. You need a prescription from a doctor and in fact that’s about to become near impossible from next year as well.

"So, if you can’t order overseas nicotine vapes online and it’s too hard to get a prescription, then you’ll just revert back to buying cigarettes. What a terrible public policy outcome that is, but Aussies still have time to fight for their right to health," he says.

Mr Devery says banning nicotine vape imports would only protect and strengthen the tobacco industry, with rising smoking rates in Australia inevitable if the ban proceeds next year. At the same time, New Zealand is regulating and legalising restricted access to nicotine vaping products.

VTANZ member, Ben Pryor, who co-owns leading brands VAPO Australia, VAPO New Zealand and Alt New Zealand, says the Australian Government is dreaming if it thinks people will kick tobacco by using ineffective nicotine patches and gum.

"Nicotine vaping is the most effective smoking cessation tool in the world. In New Zealand, our smoking rates have never been lower. That’s because our Government and health agencies universally endorse nicotine vaping as a safer alternative to smoking and a very effective way to successfully quit tobacco. A local regulated market is how you stop dodgy imports and keep people off black market products.

"Given it has proven to be 95% less harmful than tobacco, vaping should be as accessible, if not more accessible, than cigarettes. Vaping should not be a prescription product in Australia as this just adds barriers to entry for smokers keen to quit," says Mr Pryor.

Both Mr Devery and Mr Pryor say Australian vapers and smokefree advocates should be encouraged by the latest delay, with MPs obviously waking up to the fact that pushing Australians back into smoking would be a dumb idea. Public pressure, however, must continue as tobacco tax revenue remains very seductive to the Australian Government.

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