Australian and NZ College of Psychiatrists announces strong support for e-cigarettes

Posted by DrMendelsohn on 16 July, 2017

The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP), the nation’s peak body for psychiatrists, has come out in strong support of e-cigarettes for tobacco harm reduction.

In its submission to the federal parliamentary inquiry, the RANZCP stated that e-cigarettes ‘will provide a safer way to deliver nicotine to those who are unable to stop smoking, thereby minimising the harms associated with smoking tobacco’.

E-cigarettes could be of special benefit to smokers with mental illness, who are more likely to smoke and smoke more heavily than other smokers. Smoking is the leading cause of the poor health of this population.

The report also acknowledges the uncertainties. ‘The RANZCP recognises the significant promise of e-cigarettes. However, as there is conflicting evidence and a lack of long term studies, the RANZCP supports a cautious approach'.

Sensible regulation

The RANZCP supports 'proportional' regulation which reflects the low risk of vaping compared to smoking. Regulation needs to allow ‘individuals to have appropriate access to these products at a reasonable cost’.

In the RANZCP’s view, e-cigarettes 'should not be regulated as medicines, as this would present significant regulatory barriers for their production and distribution. Nor should they be regulated as tobacco products which might similarly restrict their availability'. A consumer product classification seems to be most appropriate classification.

Other regulatory suggestions are:

  • Safety and quality standards
  • Sensible health warnings, good manufacturing practice, childproof containers
  • Advertising and promotion, but with restrictions to avoid glamourising products and to ensure not appealing to non-smokers or children
  • Minimal tax to make e-cigarettes attractive to individuals trying to quit tobacco smoking
  • Minimum age of purchase of 18 years
  • The use of low-risk flavourings

Use in mental health facilities

Many mental health facilities are now smoke-free. The RANZCP says ‘there may be benefits in allowing the use of e-cigarettes and vaporisers in these settings. This may encourage patients to switch to these less harmful alternatives while reducing the conflicts which smoking bans can sometimes cause’.

 

Resources

Click below for the full report:
RANZCP submission to the Senate Inquiry into the use and marketing of electronic cigarettes and personal vaporisers in Australia

Article in Sydney Morning Herald, 20 July 2017
Psychiatrists want e-cigarettes ban lifted, saying patients are dying earlyArticle on the use of e-cigarettes in people with mental illness

Sharma R, Gartner CE, Castle DJ, Mendelsohn CP. Should we encourage smokers with severe mental illness to switch to e-cigarettes. ANZ Journal of Psychiatry 2017

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