The government has delayed its ban on the importation of vaping products containing nicotine, in a win for vapers.
Health Minister Greg Hunt announced on Friday, instead of the ban coming into effect on July 1, it would be pushed back six months to January 1, 2021.
“Around the world we have seen strong evidence of non-smokers being introduced to nicotine through vaping for the first time,” Hunt said on Friday.
“However there is a second group of people who have been using these e-cigarettes with nicotine as a means to ending their cigarette smoking.
“In order to assist this group in continuing to end that addiction we will therefore provide further time for implementation of the change by establishing a streamlined process for patients obtaining prescriptions through their GP.”
The Health Minister said the six month extension will give people time to consult their GPs about the best way to give up smoking.
“During this time, the Therapeutic Goods Administration will undertake a formal review and consultation process regarding the classification of nicotine in the Poisons Standard which will inform the implementation,” Hunt added.
Policy Director at Legalise Vaping Emilie Dye said the announcement was a “big win for vapers across Australia”.
“We now have an opportunity to fight for the legalisation and regulation of nicotine vaping in Australia,” Dye said.
The government’s initial decision to ban the products was welcomed by the Australian Medical Association, but slammed by the Australian Tobacco Harm Reduction Association (ATHRA).
“This is a cruel blow for Australia’s marginalised and disadvantaged communities which have far higher smoking rates and lower quit success than the rest of the community,” Founding Chairman of ATHRA Associate Professor Colin Mendelsohn said last week.
“Australia‘s high cigarette prices cause serious financial stress in the population, especially now when unemployment levels are at record highs.
“Vaping is 90 percent cheaper than smoking and can reduce health and financial inequalities.
“For most, it will now be almost impossible to access nicotine and many vapers will have no choice but to go back to deadly smoking.
“Many will die as a result.”