My submission into the Senate Inquiry into e-cigarettes

Posted by DrMendelsohn on 1 September, 2017

The Senate is conducting an Inquiry into the Vaporised Nicotine Products Bill 2017, a private members’ Bill by Senators Leyonhjelm and Roberts. The Inquiry is due to report on 13 September 2017.

Senate.jpgThe main purpose of the Bill is to allow nicotine to be legally available for use in alternative, safer products to combustible tobacco, specifically

  • Liquid nicotine up to 20mg/ml (2%) for use in electronic cigarettes
  • Nicotine in tobacco for heating in heat-not-burn products
     

My submission

You can download my full submission here.

The Executive Summary

  • I strongly support the recommendations in the Vaporised Nicotine Products Bill 2017, specifically that nicotine in ‘electronic nicotine delivery systems’ and in ‘tobacco prepared and packed for heating’ should be removed from the Poisons Standard, as is ‘tobacco prepared and packed for smoking’.
     
  • It is unethical and irrational to ban a less harmful form of nicotine intake (e-cigarettes), while allowing the sales of the most lethal form (tobacco cigarettes).
     
  • I recommend an increase in the maximum allowable nicotine concentration. At least 50 mg/ml is required to meet the needs of smokers wanting to switch from combustible tobacco.
     
  • Adult smoking rates in Australia have stalled over the last 3 years. New and innovative solutions such as e-cigarettes and heat-not-burn products are needed if Australia is to reach its target of 10% smoking by 2018.
     
  • E-cigarettes are a much safer harm reduction alternative to combustible tobacco for adult smokers who are otherwise unable or unwilling to quit smoking or nicotine and have the potential to save the lives of hundreds of thousands of Australian smokers.
     
  • E-cigarettes are being used almost exclusively by confirmed smokers who are trying to reduce harm to themselves or others from smoking, or to quit smoking completely.
     
  • Australia is increasingly out-of-step with other similar countries. E-cigarettes are legally available in the UK, EU and US and are being legalised in Canada and NZ.
     
  • There is no evidence that e-cigarettes are increasing tobacco smoking by renormalising the act of smoking, acting as a gateway to smoking in young people or being used for temporary, not permanent abstinence.
     
  • Good quality, comprehensive reviews of the evidence available to date and large population studies have found that the e-cigarettes help some smokers quit.
     
  • The scientific consensus is that long-term use of e-cigarettes is dramatically less harmful than smoking and probably at least 95% less harmful. Like all new products, the exact long-term risks of vaping are unknown, but are certain to be much less than for smoking.

  • As regular e-cigarette use is almost exclusively confined to smokers, any risk should be compared to the risk of continuing to smoke, which kills two out of every three smokers.
     
  • The risk of harm from vapour exposure to bystanders is negligible.
     
  • Heat-not-burn products are reduced-risk alternatives to smoking and provide an additional choice for smokers wishing to switch to a safer form of nicotine delivery.
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