E-Cigarette lunacy, a perplexing case

Vaping is becoming very popular all over the world wide but is frowned on by health authorities in Australia. The sale of e-cigarettes is legal here, provided that they contain no nicotine. That’s because nicotine is classified as a “Schedule 7 Dangerous Poison”.  Unless said nicotine is contained in a cigarette, in which case it is not treated as a poison at all.

Most vapers these days go for an e-cigarette that comes with a rechargeable battery and a refillable reservoir that contains the vaping liquid.  It is quite legal to sell vaping liquids in Australia provided, once again, that they contain no nicotine.

So vapers who are hooked on nicotine are forced to order their nicotine vaping liquid from overseas websites. That’s legal too provided that the imported liquid is for personal use. But there are no regulations on what goes into the imported vaping liquid and therefore no protections for these consumers.

If this sounds crazy, think back to what happened when nicotine replacement products first hit the market here.

In the beginning, nicotine patches and gums were available only with a doctor’s prescription. Later, they could be purchased over the counter but were available only at pharmacies. The pharmacy lobby at the time maintained that smokers required “pharmacist’s advice” when switching from fags to patches or gums.

Eventually the authorities wised up to this silliness and the rules were relaxed so that other retailers could stock and legally these products.

Two days ago, journalist Joe Hildebrand wrote an interesting piece on the health and social benefits of vaping.

I switched from full strength cigarettes to e-cigarettes four years ago and I’d never pretend that e-cigarettes are harmless.  But these days I have no smoker’s cough. Lungs cleared up in two weeks. No nicotine stains on teeth. No stinking ash trays around the house. And the cost savings are enormous.

With cigarettes now at about a dollar a stick, a 25-pack a day habit will run to $175 a week. For me, vaping costs about one tenth of that. And while not harmless, experts overseas claim that vaping carries only 5 per cent of the risk associated with real cigarettes.

The Niconazis in Australia simply want to drive smoking underground and force all smokers to quit. But it’s not that simple. Smoking cessation experts (and I’ve been to a few of them) maintain the nicotine is just as addictive as many illicit drugs. On the upside, psychologists tell me that nicotine is a powerful antidepressant which many people use to self medicate.

So let’s stop pretending that electronic cigarettes are purely a quitting aid. For many people they are, because they can progressively reduce the nicotine content in the liquid. Electronic cigarettes a simply a less costly and less harmful nicotine delivery system for people who are addicted to nicotine.

Now wait for some health department bright spark to decide that nicotine liquids should be available on prescription. Here we go again.

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