The Greens recognise the potential role of e-cigarettes in tobacco harm reduction but support a precautionary approach in the regulation of e-cigarettes.
The Greens support the recommendations of the majority Select Committee on Tobacco Harm Reduction report and have made some additional comments.
It is recognised that e-cigarettes can assist some to quit, but can also prolong smoking in others, and that further research of the benefits across a population, rather than on an individual-to-individual basis, is required.
The Greens share the view of many academics and public health officials that there is not enough evidence at a population level to claim that nicotine containing e-cigarettes have, on average, a positive benefit for all.
The Greens support calls to take a precautionary approach in the regulations of e-cigarettes to ensure we do not undo many years of outstanding public health campaigns to reduce the levels of tobacco smoking in Australia.
There remain deep concerns with the tobacco industry’s predatory tactics, particularly in encouraging and normalising vaping for young people and there are significant concerns about the active involvement of the big tobacco in the debate around regulatory reform of e-cigarettes in Australia.
It is very clear that e-cigarettes present an emerging market to the big tobacco industry, and subsequently they have an obvious interest in any regulatory reform that may restrict access and consumption.
The Greens support a prescription-based model for e-cigarettes containing nicotine until further research on the long-term impacts are completed.
The Greens recommend that GPs be urgently provided with opportunities to upskill in smoking cessation options, including the use of e-cigarettes, to ensure they are fully informed of all options when assisting patients.
The Australian Greens support the recommendations of the Majority Report and further recommend:
1. That any decision-making on e-cigarettes by the Australian Government be based on public health principles as part of a harm reduction approach, rather than commercial considerations.
2. The Australian Government continue to invest in evidence-based harm reduction strategies, incorporating new approaches as evidence of their long-term effectiveness becomes available.
3. Should the TGA recommend that nicotine containing e-cigarettes and nicotine liquids for use in e-cigarettes be available only via prescription, the Australian Government implement that decision and commit to reviewing that decision in two years’ time as more research and data becomes available.
4. GPs urgently upskill in smoking harm reduction and cessation options, including the use of nicotine containing e-cigarettes, to ensure they are fully informed of all options when assisting patients.
5. Prohibit the sale of nicotine containing e-cigarettes and nicotine liquids for use in e-cigarettes in convenience stores.
The full report can be found here.
Lucy Cowcher-Guthrie: 0418 401 180