Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

Vape Reservations

Newspaper article The Observer (Gladstone, Australia)

Vape Reservations

Article excerpt

Byline: DEBBIE SCHIPP

AS THOUSANDS of smokers across the country grapple with the decision to quit smoking - or have already seen their decision to quit in 2018 fall by the wayside - an Australian Government ban on nicotine e-cigarettes remains in place.

But supporters of nicotine vaping say 2018 may be the year die-hard smokers - the very ones targeted by a decade of Quit campaigns - will try to force the government's hand to overturn the ban.

Just don't put much faith in a government inquiry: Health Minister Greg Hunt has already said it won't be lifted on his watch.

And therein, says expert Associate Professor Colin Mendelsohn from the University of NSW's School of Public Health and Medicine, lies the problem.

"They don't want to hear what the benefits may be," Prof Mendelsohn says.

"An inquiry is due to deliver a report in February but the Health Minister is already undermining (it). You have to wonder why."

The law

Currently in Australia, it's legal to use electronic cigarettes that don't have nicotine but illegal to use the ones that do.

It's illegal to possess the liquid nicotine used in vapes. The same nicotine contained in the perfectly legal cigarettes the government would like you to quit and that can be legally bought in any convenience store. The only exception for liquid nicotine is if you have a prescription from a doctor.

Which is how some of the 250,000 vapers (1.2 per cent of the population) in Australia, according to the 2016 National Drug Strategy household survey, are getting their fix.

"We know a lot of people are doing it, despite the fact it's so hard to get hold of," Prof Mendelsohn says.

He has helped many smokers quit the habit via vaping and thinks he knows why the government doesn't want to have the nicotine e-cigarette conversation. …

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