GOVERNMENT BAN ON NICOTINE VAPE IMPORTS LIKELY TO FORCE AUSTRALIANS BACK TO SMOKING CIGARETTES

19 June, 2020

Federal Health Minister Greg Hunt’s decision to ban nicotine imports from 1 July is out of step with global legislation and will affect more than 400,000 Australian vapers, and may incentivise many to turn to the significantly more harmful practice of smoking cigarettes.

Russell Zimmerman, spokesperson for the Australian Retail Vaping Industry Association (ARVIA) and Australian Retailers Association (ARA) said Minister Hunt’s decision will have health implications for hundreds of thousands of smokers and will also force the closure of many online and bricks and mortar vape stores in Australia.

Mr Zimmerman said it is disappointing the government developed these regulations without consultation with affected retailers or Australian vapers. The import ban also occurs during a parliamentary break, reducing parliamentary scrutiny of the regulations and any opportunity for other legislators to be heard.

“The Governor-General is now being asked to make regulations that will deprive adult ex-smokers from the far less harmful product they have successfully used to quit smoking, making this decision the most pro-Big Tobacco regulation in Australia in decades,” he said.

“While Australian retailers have been guided by global evidence on the health impacts, Australian health regulators have been waging an unscientific and ideological war on vaping which ultimately supports Big Tobacco.

“The international scientific evidence is that vaping is at least 95% safer than smoking and is improving health impacts globally, because they emit far fewer and lower levels of the harmful carcinogens and toxicants found in burnt tobacco. Vaping products are driving record reductions in smoking rates globally.

“It makes no sense for health regulators to continue endorsing harmful traditional cigarettes which kill 21,000 Australians every year, but deny smokers access to a much lower impact product.

“It also makes no sense to divert our already overstretched border force personnel to intercept liquid nicotine products.

Vaping retailers have thrown their support behind comments made by Senator Eric Abetz that current government policies only serve to grow the illicit tobacco trade and deliver billions in profits to dangerous criminal gangs, further supporting the need to legalise cheaper and less harmful alternatives to smoking.

“Retailers are calling for this poorly designed and dangerous regulation to be withdrawn immediately.

“We urge the government to instead follow the example of more than 50 nations around the world including New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Canada, Sweden, the United States, Japan, Korea and 27 European Member states, who have all legalised vaping,” Mr Zimmerman said today.

ENDS

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