The British Labour Party could copy Australia’s prescription-only scheme for vaping products if it wins the next general election. Wes Streeting, the left-leaning minority party’s “shadow health secretary,” admires the policy adopted by Australian Labor Party health minister Mark Butler.
As shadow health secretary, Streeting speaks for the Labour Party on health issues, and is the likely current choice to be appointed health secretary if Labour gains a majority in Parliament.
“I’m looking very carefully at what Mark Butler and the Australian Labor government have announced,” Streeting told The Telegraph earlier this week. “Their policy is in part driven by the evidence here in Australia that vaping has become a gateway drug to smoking. So I think we need to look carefully at what the UK evidence is on that front.”
Streeting says the “irresponsible” vaping industry has “peddled itself as an altruistic smoking cessation service, at the same time as addicting a generation of children’s nicotine.”
“This whole business model is built on addicting people to one of the most addictive substances known to man or woman,” Streeting said, “so we’re going to go hard on marketing selling to children, but I’m also want the vaping industry to go back to its roots as a genuine smoking cessation tool.”
Nicotine-containing vapes have never been legal in Australia, but are allowed with a doctor’s prescription. Under Butler, Australia plans to crack down on illegal imports, and ban nicotine-free vapes and non-tobacco flavors.
But while the United Kingdom has seen a decline in smoking during the vaping era, Australia has not, and both smoking and youth vaping is currently surging, due to widely available black market disposable vapes. The country’s prescription-only vape model has been an obvious failure.
“It beggars belief that anybody could visit Australia and conclude that its approach to smoking and vaping is a model to follow,” wrote British commentator Christopher Snowdon.
Polls of likely voters in the next general election show the British Labour Party leading the ruling Conservative Party. The next election will happen no later than January 2025. Labour has led in the polls for about two years.
The Conservative (or Tory) Party has controlled the British Parliament for 14 years, taking the majority from Labour in 2010, and winning three times since. All of the UK’s progressive vaping positions have been adopted under the Conservative majority.
The Conservative and Labour parties are roughly analogous to the Republican and Democratic parties in the United States, although the comparison isn’t perfect. In Britain’s parliamentary system, there are many parties, but the Conservative and Labour parties consistently control the most votes.