“Much needed health resources should be directed towards providing Australians more urgent healthcare and elective surgeries, not on a pointless vaping witch hunt,” says Nancy Loucas, Executive Co-ordinator of CAPHRA (Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates).
Her comments follow ongoing publicly funded anti-vaping propaganda and policing at both a federal and state level. Australia’s Chief Medical Officer has even labelled vaping the next biggest health issue after COVID-19.
At the same time, New South Wales Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant has threatened law-abiding retailers that if they sell illegal vapes containing nicotine, it could see them spend up to six months in prison, or fined up to $1,650, or both!
NSW Health is now publicly claiming that vapes ‘can have the same harmful chemicals found in cleaning products, nail polish remover, weed killer and bug spray’ and that ‘nicotine is a dangerous poison’.
“If vaping was as harmful as NSW Health purports, I’m sure in New Zealand where vaping is successfully replacing smoking, their hospitals would be full of poisoned vapers. In reality, not one New Zealander has reportedly died from vaping. That’s because product standards for nicotine vaping are high and consumers feel very safe to switch,” says Ms Loucas.
CAPHRA says Australia is falling further and further behind in the Asia Pacific region when it comes to adopting effective Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) policies and programmes that reduce the national smoking rate.
“After a decade of a Liberal Government railing against vaping while the number of smokers barely moved, we hoped the new Labor Government would take a more progressive approach to reducing Australia’s stubbornly high smoking rate.
“Sadly, all we’ve seen in recent months is a worsening vaping witch hunt. This approach is frankly going to kill Australian smokers desperate to quit because they’re not getting the support or reasonable access to switch to considerably less harmful nicotine vaping,” she says.
Ms Loucas says as well as government-funded hysteria, the likes of Victorian smokers are being let down by the very professionals who should be helping them find an effective offramp from smoking. VicHealth, Cancer Council Victoria, and Quit Victoria are busy working together to scare smokers about the most effective smoking cessation tool in modern history – nicotine vaping!
“They’re doing their best to compare vaping in the 2020s to smoking in the 1920s, claiming if the Government doesn’t crackdown even harder, they will fail to protect the health of current and future generations of Australians. What a lot of baloney!
“Nicotine vaping products should be available to purchase in shops as a strict R18 product. Requiring a doctor’s prescription is failing Australia’s 2.3 million smokers. Australia’s appalling annual smoking-related death rate of 20,000 would start reducing if smokers had decent access to a viable and safer alternative,” says Ms Loucas.
CAPHRA says Australia’s medicalised model for vaping, and the increasing resources going into policing such a failed public health approach, comes at a huge opportunity cost.
“Ongoing stupidity from many Australian politicians and public health officials is seeing huge amounts of money being haemorrhaged at the very time their health system needs extra financial support because of COVID-19,” says Nancy Loucas.
Boasting nearly 15,000 testimonials, CAPHRA is calling on those who’ve quit cigarettes through smoke-free nicotine alternatives to tell their story on www.righttovape.org
For a free digital media repository on tobacco harm reduction in Asia Pacific – including media releases, images and graphics – please visit https://apthrmedia.org
The Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Advocates (CAPHRA) is a regional alliance of consumer tobacco harm reduction advocacy organizations. Its mission is to educate, advocate and represent the right of adult alternative nicotine consumers to access and use of products that reduce harm from tobacco use.