Leading e-cigarette advocate Clive Bates visiting Australia
Clive Bates is visiting Australia from the UK from 15-20 October 2017 to give evidence to the Parliamentary Inquiry on e-cigarettes.
Clive is one of the world’s leading experts on tobacco harm reduction policy and science and was the director of Action on Smoking and Health UK for 6 years.
Clive will also be doing media interviews and meeting key decision makers while in Australia. He says, 'my aim is to share experience from the US and UK where we are seeing encouraging uptake of low-risk vaping alongside an unusually rapid decline in smoking'. He says the major difference between Australia and the UK tobacco policy is that:
'The UK… encourages smokers to switch to low-risk alternatives like vaping, while Australia actively prevents it and actually criminalises people who try to protect their own health in this way'.
Historically, UK has always had substantially higher levels of smoking than Australia, but in 2016 that gap has finally closed. The rate of smoking in the UK has now caught up to Australia. In England it is lower.
Is Australia falling behind on tobacco policy?
- Long-term vaping is much less harmful than smoking, probably 95-99% less harmful
- There is no evidence that e-cigarettes are 'renormalising' smoking or leading to uptake by young people. In fact, they may be accelerating the decline in smoking in both adults and young people
- Australia's precautionary and risk-averse approach is actually 'reckless' as it protects the cigarette trade and discourages smokers from quitting
- E-cigarettes are consumer products used by smokers to replace an existing more lethal consumer product, smoked tobacco. They do not make therapeutic claims and should be regulated as consumer products
- Public health should embrace tobacco harm reduction as a public health policy in addition to other strategies to reduce smoking rates
By doing this all right, Australia could become the world leader once again in tobacco control.