‘Government shows good judgement in its smoking legislation?’ Not much of a headline, but that’s what New Zealand has just done, legalising vaping systems that deliver nictotine while maintaining the existing tobacco legislation. Much more exciting is the news from Down Under, where the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has decreed nicotine is to remain a banned substance in all e-cigarette products. Oh sorry, did we say exciting? We meant exasperating.
According to the TGA, nicotine present in e-cigarette fluid, by virtue of being addictive, poses a real threat to members of the public. Of course, that makes sense, nobody wants poor gullible people to be hooked onto nasty, damaging substances… but the whole point of the e-cigarette is that it is significantly less harmful than normal fags, and should act as an easy, painless way of weaning addicts off cigarettes.
By banning nicotine in e-cigarettes, the TGA are shooting themselves in the foot, deliberately denying themselves a divinely sent weapon in the public health battle against tobacco; this move will make it harder for smokers to move away from cigarettes. But then, that’s the trouble with health fanatics: if they’ve got their sights set on something, there’s just no telling them otherwise.
Professor Riccardo Polosa of the University of Catania is scathing. “Banning e-cigarettes with nicotine simply drives the market underground” he states. “The resulting unregulated market increases the risk of harm for users.”
“Ten years of overseas experience has found the claims of e-cigarette opponents are overstated. There is no reliable evidence e-cigarettes are acting as a gateway to smoking for children, or that they are ‘re-normalising’ smoking behaviour.”
Australia used to be a country of hard men, men of steel, gruff types who didn’t let busybodies tell them what to do. Banning nicotine in e-cigarettes means all but the men of steel will struggle to kick the smoking habit. Sadly, that breed of Australian seems to be dying out pretty fast – and not even as a result of smoking.