Vapers fighting to overturn the nicotine ban in Australia just found 40 major allies. Prof. Colin Mendelsohn of the University of New South Wales has marshalled a formidable group of Australian and international experts, and delivered a statement by the group to the government.
Mendelsohn says most of Australia’s nearly three million smokers want to quit but try and fail repeatedly. He says switching to e-cigarettes is a much less harmful and cheaper alternative for smokers who can’t or won’t quit smoking. “Using an e-cigarette can effectively satisfy the smoker’s need for nicotine as well as providing ‘a smoking experience’ which many smokers miss after quitting and which often leads to relapse”, says Mendelsohn in a press release announcing the group’s comment to the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
“There is a widespread scientific consensus that the long-term health risks to vapers is unlikely to exceed five percent of the harm from smoking. On the other hand, up to two out of three Australian smokers will die prematurely from a smoking-related disease if they continue to smoke,” he added.
Is this Australian vapers' moment?
There is some hope that the country’s hardline stance on nicotine may be softening. In a story titled “Cancer Council divided over e-cigarettes,” 9 News reports that researcher Ron Borland has split with his organization over the nicotine ban. The official stance of the Cancer Council is that nicotine should remain prohibited.
But Borland says that e-cigarettes are being treated the same way as cocaine and heroin while cigarettes remain freely available. And that is a hard position to defend.
“I just don’t understand the logic of having nicotine in the deadly form of tobacco cigarettes widely
available, while nicotine in the much safer form of e-cigarettes is outlawed by the Poison Standard,” says Professor Ann McNeill of Kings College London.
Prof. McNeill, who was the lead author of the Public Health England e-cigarette evidence review last year, signed the Mendelsohn submission to the Australian government. “The current situation in Australia protects the cigarette business, encourages smoking and increases the risk of disease,” she said.
The signatories to the Mendelsohn comment to the government constitute a who’s who of worldwide nicotine and tobacco science and policy experts. Among them are several influential names from New Zealand, which is itself beginning the process of making nicotine legal for vaping.