The Australian Medical Association has welcomed the new restrictions on vaping products, but says the move should be followed by a total ban.
Australian Medical Association vice-president Dr Chris Moy hailed the ban on importing vaping products from October 1, but warned that the “extremely aggressive” vaping lobby would fight back harshly.
The Morrison government finally introduced import restrictions on vapes after a delay of more than a year following TGA advice that required prescriptions for nicotine products.
Purchasing vaping equipment such as e-nicotine cigarettes, nicotine pods, and liquid nicotine from abroad will be illegal from October 1 without a prescription.
Dr Moy told SkyNews.com.au that vaping serves as a “gateway” to smoking for children, warning of a potential “really serious lung condition”.
The AMA vice president also pushed back against the idea that vaping helps smokers quit and said there was greater concern about people who took cigarettes.
Dr Moy denounced the “extremely aggressive” vaping lobby – which he said now included mainstream tobacco companies – for pushing the idea that vapers prevent smoking.
He said pro-vaping interests would come out with studies with “extremely limited evidence” to highlight the benefits of vaping for smokers.
“The evidence for reducing smoking is marginal at best, but the evidence for onset of smoking is there,” Dr Moy said.
“The pro-vaping lobby is extremely aggressive up there with climate deniers and anti-vaxxers.
“There will be a lot of screaming and moaning at the start of this.”
Vaping is more prevalent among young Australians according to the National Drug Strategy Household Survey (NDSHS), which also found that 21% of high school students aged 16 to 17 had tried e-cigarettes in 2017.
While the use of e-cigarettes and similar vaping products more than doubled between 2016 and 2019, there has been a gradual decline in the number of cigarette smokers since the 1990s.
The latest NDSHS data showed the rate of daily smoking has more than halved since 1991, from 25% to 11.6% in 2019.
Dr Moy said there were great concerns about the “unknown” fluids in the vapes as well as the alarming levels of nicotine which, at high levels, could have “many effects on the brain and heart.”
A nicotine level of 20 mg / ml may be “too irritating to the throat,” said Dr Moy, but in many products there were nicotine levels of 100 mg / ml which are well above the “toxic dose”.
Dr Moy and WADA called for a maximum concentration level of 20 mg / ml as well as the addition of vape products to the existing prescription monitoring system, which would prevent ‘doctor buying’.
“We want a safety oversight framework to see what happens with the changes,” Dr Moy said.
“We think it’s a start, but we would have preferred to ban the stuff.”
While Dr Moy criticized alternatives to smoking, he said there were more concerns about children adopting them than smokers who quit.
Dr Moy added that the inclusion of prescriptions in the new change empowers doctors and allows GPs to “work with their patients”, but the main goal was to “reduce access to these products”.