30 September 2021
by Pippa Starr
As thousands of former smokers shuffle as fast as they can to try and comply with new highly restrictive nicotine prescription arrangements imposed on them from tomorrow,
a massive Australian Department of Health Grant will drop into the hands of the same people that benefit by selling their branded products in some of Australia’s biggest retailers of Big Tobacco Products.
The fortunate grant recipients at Cancer Council of Victoria are pleased with their offering of $3,000,000.00 big ones, but is it money well spent?
21000 Australians die every year from a smoking related illness as declines in smoking rates worsen over the last 6 years, decelerating up to twice a slow as other democratic countries like the USA & UK.
Our government wisdom appears to be, keep throwing money at the problem and it will go away. Will it though?
It is like the blind leading the blind, as current strategies to curb smokers are clearly not working very well.
Although the last AIHW survey in 2019 had daily smoking figures at 11.6% it is expected to be way higher due to the lack of ability to track the massive amount of black-market tobacco products now sold which could be now as high as 20-25% of all tobacco products sold.
One of Australia’s leading strategies and “goto” places to throw taxpayers money, with an apparent lack of accountability or KPI’s is the “Quitline”.
No doubts many Australian smokers have had varying success with this service but it’s clearly not doing well, as their own figures state in July to September 2020 there were 992 less calls to the quit line compared to the year before.
Although the quitline is clearly struggling to perform well and make any real significant impact on Australian smoking rates,
the Australian Department of health will drop a another gigantic grant at it’s doors for a whopping $3,000,000.00. at 2pm today.
What economic leverage will Australia gain from a service that that leans on nicotine patches and other pharma products that decline in effectiveness from 10% at best at 12 months, but mostly result in relapse to smoking again?
The Quitline service run by Cancer Council Victoria is headed up by
Dr Sarah White. She says “we offer a service that is totally supportive and without judgement”.
Last year she tweeted how great it was that they offer support to LGBTI people.
I kindly commented to the tweet saying that it would be against many discrimination acts in Australia to do otherwise.
On the back of that, Sarah blocked me.
Seems like very odd behavior from someone who was being supportive,
especially to a trans person.
I recently spoke to a good person from Melbourne who said,
“I called the Quitline to see if they could help me quit with vaping as similar NHS lines do in the UK, but the person I spoke to said they couldn’t help me if I wanted to vape”.
Sarah White swears that the Quitline is a valuable tool in Australia’s quit smoking ecosystem, however the Cancer council’s Quitline seems anything but friendly to those who wish to quit smoking with the at least 7x more effective quit method of vaping nicotine.
It seems bizarre that the Smokefree hotline in the UK will support smokers who can quit via vaping nicotine via an ecigarette,
yet Australia’s counterpart actually want’s to encourage people to switch to from vaping to far less effective nicotine replacement products that could risk smokers relapsing.
It seems like a secret service rather than what should be an open grant system that encourages the best outcomes possible,
when a grant for $3,000,000.00 is presented as
It’s like the Australian department of health don’t want input from anywhere else.
While there are other more effective opportunities to help smokers quit for good, why are our taxes being divvied out into what appears to be a closed ecosystem of benefactors that refuses to open it's doors to more effective quit methods?
The hype of late in the media around teens taking up vaping has been at the fore of many struggling shock jocks and failing journalists. They often fail to research the easy to find fact that only around 1.8% of 14-17 year olds are experimenting with unregulated nicotine and non-nicotine vapour products.
The moral panic would make you think teen vaping is at epidemic proportions and causing wormholes in young teen bodies.
While I agree 100% that nicotine vape products should be only a last line tool to help adults quit smoking and should have access enforced, the moral panic around the use of them has had a massively disproportionate response to the real world marginal and experimental use of these devices.
Despite the media hyped misinformation, vaping contains no more than 5% of the risks that are present in combustible tobacco products because the harm in cigarettes comes from the combustion, not the nicotine.
Australian media and doctors needs to learn about what the unintended consequences of moral panic can do before it costs a life.
Recently a teen in Canada was sent home from hospital after he told them he was a vaper. The doctor sadly misdiagnosed a deadly blood clot after making assumptions that he thought the patient had a vape related injury. He died too young!
Do we want that to happen here in Australia too?
I was at a shopping mall yesterday and went to the smoking area to have a vape, which is like sending an alcoholic to a bottle shop to have a glass of water.
Anyway, a group of teens that were aged between 14-17,
some with cigarettes tucked behind their ears muttered as they walked by me to their mates.
“Haha she’s one of those vapers that think it’s safer than smoking”.
The group of half a dozen teens walked up a few meters further, a few leaning on the wall with faces that only a teen attitude has, as they sparked up together and glanced toward me while puffing away on their cancer sticks.
It is with the disproportionate response to vaping that is now taught to teens in schools, that has now led to this ridiculous behaviour.
Meanwhile it appears our health minister Greg Hunt takes his lead from advice of a closed ecosystem of closed health grant awardees.
One of the specifications of the $3,000,000.00 grant being given to Cancer Council Victoria today is:
“The implementation of systemic evidence-based smoking cessation”.
There’s an evidence base that clearly shows that in the last 18 years,
68 million people across the world have quit smoking by vaping nicotine.
No cancer, heart, lung disease or deaths have been evidenced due to vaping nicotine. Zip, zero, zilch!
Yet, Australian taxpayers money is spoon-fed to organisations that deter people from the most effective and non deadly quit method.
Money well spent?
As a result, adults who wish to continue vaping or initiate a quit regime by vaping nicotine will now have to get a prescription from their doctor or risk state and federal bankrupting fines of up to $222000.
Even if they are bankrupt or bankrupted they will still have to pay these fines for the rest of their life!
Australia used to be the place where we were clever enough to encourage open and competitive solutions to problems.
It seems now, we are the place where politicians decide exactly who is going to get our money with a lack of respect of acknowledging the best possible science for the best possible solutions.
Harm reduction is one very important solution that should no longer be ignored.
Meanwhile, it's too bad for Australian smokers, if they can’t find one of a handful of doctors willing to prescribe the most effective way to quit smoking after trying everything else, then coffin nails and premature burial is their future!
Because incompetent use of taxes is more important than Australian's health!