Life’s too short to battle public health puritans anymore – I’m over it. Terry Barnes

Posted on January 3, 2024 By Colin

TERRY BARNES IS A HARDENED PULIC HEALTH CONSULTANT and a former adviser to Michael Wooldridge and Tony Abbott. After years of advocating for vaping, he realises you can’t win a debate when one side is not listening. He is reluctantly withdrawing from the fight. He explains why.

The Morrison government’s prescription model was bad enough. It treated adult vapers as addicts and treatment by doctors was optional. The New Year’s Day ban and the proposed outlawing of all vapes later this year was the last straw and Terry is “over it”. As he explains:

The government’s declared intention is to protect young people. Instead it will have the following effects

1. Fuelling the black market

The new regulations will drive the existing black market underground and feed the violent greed of the organised crime gangs behind it. As Rohan Pike, former head of the Australian Border Force’s tobacco strike force said this week, ‘While there is a demand for it, there will be a black market”. Pike is spot on. Where there’s big money to be made, black marketeers and gangsters will be there.

And the products supplied will be unregulated and dangerous, with a total lack of quality control “People are consuming these things and really leaving their health in the hands of organised criminals”.

2. Criminalising vapers

The ban criminalises responsible, otherwise law-abiding adults who, to reduce their health risks, choose to vape instead of smoke. This seemingly doesn’t matter to the policy puritans.

3. The crackdown will fail

If the Albanese government thinks their crackdown will crack the illicit vaping nut, they’re dreaming.  Instead, they’re creating an open invitation to young thrill-seekers to pursue illicit vaping as part of their youthful rebellion. It’s crazy, but it’s official policy.

The solution is obvious but no-one is listening

The real solution to the problems around vaping, especially young people experimenting with it, is not to suppress and criminalise the practice, but to make it legal and a carefully-regulated retail product alongside the officially-approved nicotine source, ciggies

But no, the public health pooh-bahs will have none of that, so you will have none of that. They know best, you see. Ciggies are legally available but you can't have the safer alternative without jumping through ridiculous hurdles.

After years of getting nowhere, I’m done. What’s the point in arguing with them? Is it worth the public denunciation? Is it worth the risk to one’s reputation and livelihood? Is it worth more years of banging one’s head against a brick wall? Will any of these pooh-bahs ever open their minds to positive evidence and more enlightened points of view?


The die is cast, and I don’t see anything changing for years, if at all. So, I’m choosing not to stick my head above this particular parapet any longer. There are easier ways to earn a professional living.

The New Puritans have won.

This post is adapted from an article by Terry Barnes published by The Spectator Australia on 3 January 2024

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