The National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) recently published its 2022 CEO Statement on Electronic Cigarettes, which provides guidance to public health policymakers.
According to the Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (CAPHRA), the document falsely claims that vaping is not an effective quit-smoking tool, but a gateway to smoking with most vapers becoming dual users. Vaping, the document states, also increases the risk of smoking relapse. The NHMRC exaggerates the health impacts, poisoning and explosion risks of e-cigarettes, according to CAPHRA, while references to toxins and potential harms are made without a fair comparison to smoking.
“This latest government document on vaping makes outrageously false claims and will only cost more Australian smokers their lives,” says Nancy Loucas, executive coordinator of CAPHRA.
“Ridiculously, Australia’s chief medical officer considers vaping the next biggest health issue after COVID-19. Has he ever heard of smoking which kills over 20,000 Australians every year? This 18-page document is a complete joke. It is full of statements that can be easily debunked by international science and human evidence the world over,” says Loucas.
CAPHRA says Australia’s hardline anti-vaping approach is increasingly out of step with other Asia Pacific countries, with the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand set to lift their vaping bans. What’s more, New Zealand, across the Tasman, is already operating under a regulatory framework that has seen smoking rates decline.
“This egregious document is not worth the paper it’s written on, yet it’s now the bible for public health guidance in and around Australia,” says Loucas.
It is illegal to sell, supply or possess nicotine vaping products, with Australia the only Western democracy that requires a nicotine prescription to vape. Alarmingly, 2.3 million Australians continue to smoke cigarettes.
Last year Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration expanded its prescription-only model with customs clamping down at the border on the likes of personal imports of nicotine vaping liquids from overseas websites.