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    Australia’s vape bill will “double down on failure” if passed, professor warns

    Ali Anderson
    Ali Anderson
    June 20, 2024
    3 min read
    Download Source FilesDownload Source Files

    Australia’s new vaping bill will lead to more youth vaping, a booming black market and a hole in tax revenue, a leading professor has warned. 

    The Therapeutic Goods and Other Legislation Amendment (Vaping Reforms) Bill 2024 is set to be debated and voted on in the Australian Senate on June 24. If passed, Australia’s eight state and territory parliaments will each have to put through corresponding legislation.

    ‘Devastating consequences’

    However, Ross Fitzgerald, author and Professor of History and Politics at Griffith University, has warned that passing the bill will have devastating consequences for the country. 

    In an article ‘The Vaping Bill Doubles Down on Failure’, published in Quadrant Online, he says: “If the proposed Therapeutic Goods and Other Legislation Amendment (Vaping Reforms) is passed, high youth vaping rates, only a slow decline in adult smoking, a violent and expanding vape black market and haemorrhaging government tax revenue will be the dismal legacy of Health Minister [Mark] Butler and the Albanese government.”

    The landmark bill means vapes can only be accessed in Australia for “therapeutic purposes,” and require a prescription from a medical or nurse practitioner. They can only be legally dispensed by pharmacists. 

    This makes it illegal for retailers such as tobacconists, vape shops and convenience stores, to supply vapes containing nicotine, even with a prescription.

    While it was previously legal for adults to import three month’s supply of vapes at a time, from March 1 personal importation has also been banned.

    Evidence of vaping as an aid to quit smoking

    Mr Fitzgerald argues that the most effective way to reduce deaths from smoking would be to make nicotine-alternatives more available - not less - to those wanting to quit. 

    He says: “Some 21,000 Australians and eight million people worldwide die from smoking related conditions every year. In stark contrast, there has not yet been a scientifically attributed death from a much safer nicotine product.”

    The professor reveals that of 281 submissions to the recent Federal Senate Inquiry into the bill, 236 had opposed it. 

    He adds: “This is in part because of unambiguous scientific evidence about the efficacy of vaping as an aid to quitting smoking cigarettes, and its significant harm-reduction effects relative to smoking combustible cigarettes.”

    He also points out that the new “draconian approach to vaping” has already caused violent black market turf wars to break out and forced a swathe of vape shops aimed at adults to close. 

    The country has seen more than 70 firebombings in recent months that are understood to be related to the illegal sale of black market tobacco and vapes.

    Mr Fitzgerald says Australia is also set to lose over $12 billion (€11.17 billion) in government revenue from vapes over the next four years - as many vapers return to smoking and the black market. 

    He said: “In Australia there are approximately 1.7 million adult vapers, with numerous reports of vapers returning to smoking because it’s so much easier, and much cheaper to buy from the black market.”

    YouTuber quits Australia over vape ban

    Meanwhile, an Australian YouTuber has fled the country over the vaping ban.

    Known online as the Vaping Bogan, Samuel Parsons told his 186,000 subscribers he has relocated to the UK. 

    The father-of-two said that the government's “terrible” decision to ban the importation and sale of vapes forced his hand into leaving Australia, which he branded as a “nanny state”.

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