18 December 2020
Vaping with nicotine has quickly grown in Australia in recent years as over 520000 people attribute to trying this method to quit super addictive combustible tobacco products. Vaping with nicotine has brought overwhelming success in markets around the world in helping smokers to finally find a pathway off smoking.
Many 100's of thousands of Australian have also quit the same way with their arms tied behind their back.
Nicotine in the use of vape products in Australia has been banned for possession, distribution and/or personal use without a prescription for many years which can fetch fines up to $45000 in some states and even jail time in others.
The Australian nicotine vaper market has grown due to a clause in TGA policy that allo
ws vapers to import upto 3 months personal supply of nicotine for personal use. However that is about to change from June 2021.
520k+ Vapers will be forced to purchase their nicotine eLiquids via a prescription from one of around 8 doctors across Australia in a chemist. That's not only a massive burden to taxpayers but also to those who will have longer waiting times at the doctor.
I asked my chemist last week:
"In a few months time I will need you to help me with an eLiquid at X mg strength to use on a freemax sub-ohm bottom airflow tank with 0.15ohm stainless steel mesh coils at 60 watts with an average daily puff count of around 200". His reply was accompanied with a look on his face like a deer in the headlights just before making impact with a bull bar,
"what, huh?" he said.
"I thought so", I replied.
Yet this is the decision of an out of touch Australian Health Minister along with a TGA that has dubiously allowed some dodgy products on to the Australian market.
In recent years as cigarette prices have become the most expensive in the world in Australia, a massive and out of control black market has emerged that now supplies around 1 in 5 cigarettes smoked in Australia. Yet the harm reduction product that more smokers prefer than any other is made near impossible to obtain. Meanwhile the maximum harm product in this space, being cigarettes will continue to be sold across the major supermarkets and over 20000 retail outlets across the country.
Although there has been a ban on nicotine imports, the Australian vape industry has grown immensely in the last few years. There are now hundreds of vape businesses across Australia that support thousands of jobs. They are small businesses that won't stand a chance to compete with the likes of the big pharmacies as they essentially take over the new prescription nicotine market. Their merchandising of other nicotine replacement products are often seen at heights fit for a breaking bad toddler. So it begs the question, how safe is it to allow chemists to dispense nicotine products?
More importantly, will current smokers queue up at the doctor, get a script and go to the chemist for an eLiquid that will more than likely be flavoured worse than a smelly sock when it's a lot simpler to stop at Woolies and grab a pack of smokes?
Will current vapers go through the process of seeing their doctor and going through the process or return back to the more harmful cigarettes?
This is where I tip that a whole new black market industry entry point will open up in June 2021.
Australian vapers have tried to do the law abiding thing and import their own nicotine in the past however when the border is cut off that could all change very fast.
As we have seen with rising prices on cigarettes, the black market has exploded.
In the case of liquid nicotine, not only is it inevitable that Australian chemists will bump the prices up through the roof but also there is a limited pathway of access therefore limiting supply. It's economics 101, where supply exposure is reduced and demand increases for a product, people will often look for alternatives. Couple that with someone who is trying to curb a lifetime addiction, then men in trench coats lining ally ways is almost certain.
This policy shift by the Australian government could cost taxpayers with not only more people filling the jail system but also in hospital expenses as who knows what sort of tainted products will hit the streets for vapers?
It has been long known that criminalizing possession of any drug only deals to greater problems, yet here we are in 2020, about to criminalize nicotine in Australia even further as those who dare to bypass the borders illegally with nicotine are promised fines of up to $222000.
With all that in mind, vaping with nicotine has NEVER killed a person in over 17 years and with over 57 million users worldwide.
The Royal College of Physicians and public health England who called out the harms of smoking well before Australia and the USA and every other developed nation, declared in 2016 that vaping with nicotine is not only at least 95% less harmful than smoking but is also very effective to help smokers quit.
This whole situation spells to become one of the biggest health policy disasters in Australian history!
There is no silver lining to this story. Australian taxpayers will continue with economic burdens that exceed over $137 billion dollars each year in economic burdens.
Thousands of Australian vape industry jobs are set to be demolished in June 2021.
Smoking rates will go up and more of our loved ones will die a premature death from a smoking related illness.
This is your Australian Government that spends 10's of millions of dollars per year on smoking only to result in relatively stagnant smoking rates over the last six years. The Australian taxpayers will profit around $17 billion dollars in tobacco taxes and excise this year, but that will never bring a loved one back.