“We are hopeful the nearly decade long Liberal-led Government’s open warfare on safer nicotine products will end under
Australia’s new Labor-led Government,” says Nancy Loucas, Executive Co-ordinator of CAPHRA (Coalition of Asia Pacific
Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates).
“Former Health Minister Greg Hunt and his Cabinet colleagues oversaw a failed ‘quit or die’ approach on tobacco control.
Subsequently, Australia’s overall smoking rate has budged little while comparative countries have enjoyed considerable
success. To save thousands of Australian lives every year, the new government must urgently adopt a totally different
strategy,” says Ms Loucas.
CAPHRA says Australia’s hard-line anti-vaping approach is increasing out of step with other Asia Pacific countries. A
priority for the new government and next Health Minister must be to support a Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) approach,
including the regulated availability of safer alternatives for smokers.
It is illegal to sell, supply or possess nicotine vaping products, with Australia the only Western democracy that
requires a nicotine prescription to vape.
Last October, Australia’s Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) expanded its prescription-only model with customs
clamping down at the border on the likes of personal imports of nicotine vaping liquids from overseas websites.
Since then, official information has revealed nearly 70,000 vaping products have been seized by the TGA under the
Customs Act, with thousands of products also seized under warrant and by state governments. Millions of dollars’ worth
of fines have also been issued to Australians, as well as thousands of formal warnings.
“Precious federal and state resource needs to be urgently redirected to catching bad people, not stinging good
Australians just trying to quit smoking. The health authorities claim they’re cracking down on ‘dangerous products’ yet
vaping is scientifically deemed 95% less harmful than cigarettes which remain freely available on many street corners,”
says Ms Loucas
While vaping is now commonly viewed as the world’s most effective smoking cessation tool, Australia continues to witness
over 20,000 smokers dying prematurely from smoking-related illnesses, with 2.3 million Australian’s still smoking.
Australian THR expert Dr Colin Mendelsohn recently described last decade’s national smoking strategy as an ‘embarrassing
failure’. A target of 10% adult daily smoking was set for 2018, but only 13.8% was achieved. He believes without vaping
readily accessible to adult smokers, Australia’s 10% target will be missed again.
To make matters worse, the Department of Health’s Draft National Smoking Strategy 2022 – 2030 proposes additional
measures to prevent smokers from switching to safer nicotine products.
CAPHRA says despite ongoing claims in Australia that vaping is an on-ramp to smoking, the opposite is happening in New
Zealand, where statistics categorically prove vaping is an off-ramp to smoking. CAPHRA also points out that despite
ongoing scaremongering about nicotine, it’s addictive but not deadly - unlike the poisons from combustible cigarettes.
New Zealand has adopted a relatively progressive THR approach with vaping products available only to adults in
convenience and specialist retail shops.
“Australia’s new Labor Government needs to talk to New Zealand’s Labour Government as New Zealand’s overall daily
smoking rate has nearly halved in the past decade. It’s now in single figures, with New Zealand set to achieve Smokefree
2025 where just 5% or less smoke,” she says.
CAPHRA notes that nearly 70 countries have adopted regulatory frameworks on safer nicotine products. All of them have
since reported a dramatic decline in smoking prevalence.
The Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand are poised to lift their failed vaping bans, which will see Australia lag further
in the Asia Pacific region when it comes to adopting tobacco control policies that work.
“Here’s an opportunity for the new Australian Government to save lives thousands of lives in its first term of office
alone by simply following best practice and growing international evidence,” 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.