Posted on March 31, 2022 By Colin
Psychiatrists in Australia and New Zealand have reaffirmed their support for vaping nicotine as an effective harm reduction tool for smokers.
The Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists represents 7,400 psychiatrists and trainee psychiatrists in both countries.
In their recent submission on the draft National Tobacco Strategy 2022-30, the RANZCP wrote
“E-cigarettes and vaporisers for instance may provide a less harmful way to deliver nicotine to people who smoke, thereby minimising the harm associated with smoking tobacco and reducing some of the health disparities experienced by people living with mental illness”
The RANZCP was the first Australian medical organisation to come out in support of vaping and tobacco harm reduction. Its position statement in 2018 supported making nicotine liquid a consumer product and providing financial incentives for smokers to switch.
The RANZCP submission suggests a sensible, balanced approach to regulation. Some of the recommendations are:
More dangerous products should be controlled more strictly than less harmful ones. Under current laws in Australia, much safer vaping products are perversely regulated more strictly than deadly cigarettes
Vaping products are a substitute for smoking. Lower prices for vaping are an incentive for smokers to switch to the safer alternative. The RANZCP recommends ‘minimal taxation to encourage uptake of these devices over smokable tobacco products’.
Australia’s regulations so far have focussed primarily on reducing youth vaping and have largely neglected the substantial opportunity to help adult smokers quit.
The public’s perceptions of the harms of vaping are grossly exaggerated. Vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking. This confusion is partly due to misinformation by health authorities. For example, the NSW Health minister stated recently that vaping was no better than smoking:
The RANZCP should be congratulated for following the scientific evidence and supporting vaping. The AMA, the Australian Psychological Society and most other medical organisations should follow their lead.
Improve the mental health of communities. March 2022. RANZCP
E-cigarettes and vaporisers. Position statement 97. October 2018. RANZCP