Posted on November 8, 2023 By Colin
AFTER THE INTERCEPTION of 35 tonnes of illegal vapes at the border, a MYTHICAL, honest Health Minister released this press release
8 November 2023
Unfortunately, my government’s prescription-only policy on nicotine vaping has been a total failure and this flood of illegal imports behind me is a direct result of that. I was warned this would happen but did not listen.
Vaping nicotine was designed to help adult smokers quit and is the most popular quitting aid in Australia. However, only 8% of users are willing comply with my onerous and impractical requirement to have a doctor’s prescription.
As a result of my policies, criminal gangs have stepped up to import these products to meet the public's demand. I now realise there is no way we will be able to control this flood, as we have found repeatedly with other illicit products. This approach will only fuel the black market and lead to further criminal activity.
As expected, these illegal products are not labelled as having nicotine to enable them to pass through customs without detection.
Of course, criminal gangs have no interest in product quality and these products are dodgy and unregulated. They products are mislabelled to avoid interception by Customs as you would expect. They also contain high nicotine levels as they are not subject to any regulations.
The black market has identified teens as a lucrative market, importing youth-friendly products with appealing images and colours for their customers. Some sales outlets have located near schools where their customers are found.
I should point out that these illegal products are not made by tobacco companies as some people cynically suggest. They are all cheap devices imported directly by criminal gangs from China.
I have been told that some young people are so addicted they need nicotine patches to manage nicotine withdrawal during exams as a result of vaping. However this is only an anecdote and I have no idea how common this is, or if these students were previously smokers.
The idea that we are creating "a new generation of nicotine addicts" is also laughable. In fact, less than 2% of Australian teens who have never smoked are vaping weekly or more, so the risk of dependence is very small.
There is some evidence that youth smoking rates are rising in Australia. Of course, this is highly unlikely to be due to vaping as some claim. In fact, other countries with similar rates of youth vaping have witnessed a substantial decline in youth smoking—down to as low as 1.1% in the U.S., 2% in Canada, and 3% in both New Zealand and England. The evidence suggests that vaping is replacing smoking in young people and this is good for public health overall.
Rather than double down on a failed policy, I now realise we should reform our approach, in line with other western countries, which are managing this issue much better.
From 1 January 2024, vapes will be adult consumer products sold from licensed retail outlets with strict age verification, just like cigarettes. There will be severe penalties and loss of licence for underage sales. This will allow easier access for adults wishing to quit smoking with legal, regulated products and will restrict access to young people.
Measures will be also taken to reduce the appeal of these products to youth.
I realise this model is not perfect, but it is clearly better than the current mess I have created.
I would like to apologise to the Australian public. I was warned this would likely happen, but unfortunately I have been receiving flawed advice from tobacco control activists with extreme views and should have listened to a wider range of views. I will try to do better in the future.
NB This is a parody, a fake press release in a fantasy post-truth world