by Pippa Starr
9 July 2021
Who said the youth have it difficult these days?
Kids from age 12 have easy access to high strength nicotine products as high as 112mg including access to fruity nicotine sprays among others from their local supermarket or chemist without a prescription.
Meanwhile adults who are wanting to have a bit more time on this earth with their kids by quitting smoking via vaping nicotine must make a trip past a few hundred tobacco product retailers to get a prescription for their nicotine and then have it filled either by a chemist or import it themselves.
Most current smokers usually won’t bother as it’s getting much easier to buy tobacco from their local black-market supplier. At least 20% of tobacco products are now purchased via the black market, it’s just no longer affordable at traditional retailers and it’s easier for some than have the hassles that go along with trying to legally vape nicotine.
Kids can also get their flavoured nicotine via multi-coloured vape sticks in many black marketplaces across Australia as well, sure that is an illegal practice, but how do kids get an idea that vaping is a great way to consume nicotine?
They are taught all about it at school via initiatives like School.Tv . where they are shown all the types of vape setups available and where you can find it!
This “don’t vape kiddies” but here is the information message exposes a multitude of youth to vaping products they may not have been privy to before. but thankfully it is attached to a “don't do it” message right? Telling youth, you shouldn’t do something is almost a right of passage to “give it a go” isn’t it?
It’s with these amazing initiatives broadcast through our schools it appears as though it’s helped to feed a momentum of Australian youth seeking out their local black-market supplier of cheap multi coloured Chinese vape sticks. No one has died from these dubiously imported devices, but as careless media outlets keep posting up more information about the issue even further curiosity is sparked via those images to our bright eyed rebellious youth.
The general image of nicotine as a compound has had a hard time of it over the last century. It’s association with combustible tobacco products hasn’t helped it’s cause.
However, if you didn’t know, it’s the smoke in combustible tobacco that kills people not the nicotine! Sure nicotine along with the horrid concoction of associated chemistry applied to each cigarette helps to make nicotine a dependence but when nicotine is not combusted it can actually be very useful and not as extremely addictive.
In fact, now the Australian Government recognises Nicotine Vaping As A Medicine
Wait what? Nicotine is a medicine?
From October 2021 Nicotine used for vaping will be available as a prescription medicine.
That is the definition that Australia’s federal department of health work from when it comes to determining and clarifying what a medicine is. After that another government funded body, the TGA determine what is fit for the Australian market in the hope to filter out any of those “wizbang wonder products” and “snake oils”.
Where does that leave the black market of vape products?
If anyone is found to import a nicotine containing product without a prescription after October 1 there are federal customs act penalties that incur fines up to $222000 and state penalties that vary with fines up to $45000 and even possibly some jail time for possession in some states.
Remaining legally available, combustible tobacco products continue to be sold throughout Australia at corner stores, newsagents, tobacconists, service stations and major supermarkets while they continue to kill 21000 Australians each year and are untouchable as they are regulated via the ACCC.
No prescription access will be required for those old enough to legally buy your smokes or for kids from age 12 to continue legally buying their fruity nicotine sprays and minty nicotine gums, yet for an adult to quit smoking via the one method that has never caused a single death for over 68 million people in 18 years since it’s market inception, they must jump through the hoops of the prescription process.
What motivation is there for decreasing the 21000 per year death toll in Australia for smokers to quit?
Smokers are going to smoke and drinkers will keep drinking unless there is an accessible pathway off smoking.
Triple MMM personality Brian Carlton summed up the situation best recently saying, “making vapers have their medicine in a smoking area is like making alcoholics have AA meetings in a bottle shop”.
400000 vapers plus sympathisers heading to voting booths in the next federal election have already indicated they will vote for the party that supports the most sensible regulation around the legalisation of vaping nicotine.
But what is alarming is the unknown amount vapers that will return to smoking after October 1 because they simply don’t want to jump through hoops.
Over the last few years, the number of people who have quit smoking via the vaping with nicotine pathway has seen enormous growth in Australia.
Will that subside?
A lot of vapers feel going to a doctor is a demeaning process, yet a well-known public health figure who has worked with the Australian Department of health in helping to form policy had this to say:
“Degrading experience to go to a doctor & get a prescription? Gee what snowflakes some vapers must be!”
There appears to be little to no concern for people at population level that address the underlying social and economic outcomes when it comes to forming policy around the regulation of nicotine in Australia.
Is it way past time that Health grants under the guise of smoking are subjected to KPIs because the few policy advisors the Australian Department of health are relying on at the moment have influenced smoking rates that have almost stagnated over the last 6 years.
Health Minister Greg Hunt is in the driver’s seat of this situation and has the support of former Tourism Australia director and now prime minister Scott Morrison.
Scott Morrison’s last known public words on this topic was via an interview on 2GB where he said “I’m listening”.
So where the bloody hell are yah?
That’s right, there's a more important pandemic and vaccine situation to address right now, but while the health minister is off with the pixies stuffing up the vaccine roll out he is also busy making it difficult for Australians to quit smoking.
People watching on at this embarrassing and uniquely Australian situation where kids get their nicotine legally, smokers can get nicotine almost everywhere and the most successful quitting method in history is stifled by a lack of access helps to create new Australian tourism slogans like this one:
“Australia, if the wildlife don’t get you the nanny statists will!”