Federal Government modelling shows that over one million extra GP visits will be needed to prescribe nicotine vaping products.
Newly released Health Department modelling shows that 450,000 Australians will need to see a GP to be prescribed a vape every six months, and with Medicare paying a GP an amount of $41 to assess a patient for under 20 minutes, this means an additional $41 million going onto the Medicare budget.
Theo Foukkare, CEO of the Australian Association of Convenience Stores (AACS), said there is already a GP crisis where people are waiting weeks and, in some areas, especially regional Australia, even months, to get an appointment with a GP.
“Mark Butler knows this, so for him as Federal Health Minister to heap even more extra pressure on this failing system really defies belief.
“There is a reason why no other country in the world is only making vapes available on prescription, because it simply doesn’t work. Now you effectively have the Government telling itself that it’s going to fail, and yet they are determined to press ahead with it.”
The Health Department impact analysis also recognised that further regulation could fuel an already thriving black market.
“Fears that extra regulation may incentivise growth in the black market for nicotine vapes must also be acknowledged… This is a legitimate risk, as tighter regulation will often raise the risk of black-market sales,” stated the report.
Foukkare said that this prohibition model will see responsible, hard-working retailers left out in the cold, while criminals make billions in tax-free revenue that, if vapes were regulated, would otherwise be headed straight into the taxpayer coffers.
“We’ve now got this situation where people who vape and who can afford to see a doctor will firstly need to get a GP appointment and those who can’t just continue to rely on the online black market and dodgy retailer that sell these dangerous products.”