It has been estimated that approximately 239,000 people are using e-cigarettes in Australia, 178,000 of whom are vaping more than once a month. This remains a challenge for most, as the devices are legal, but the use of nicotine-containing refills is not. Local public health experts and liberal party MPs alike, have long been efforting to overturn the current nicotine ban.
Studies have indicated that while HTPs are less safe than vapes, they are still safer than combustible cigarettes.
In August 2016, several public health activists amongst which the New Nicotine Alliance (NNA), had submitted proposals to local regulator Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), to remove nicotine concentrations of below 3.6% from the Poisons Standard. However, in February 2017, the TGA rejected the application and upheld the nicotine ban.
Sadly, in another stand against harm reduction, the TGA has now also rejected a request for the introduction of HTPs. While the vaping industry itself remains sceptical about the products, since they are manufactured by tobacco companies, studies have indicated that while HTPs are less safe than vapes, they are still safer than combustible cigarettes. And public health experts have long pointed out that the wider selection of safer alternatives available on the market, the better the chances of success for smokers seeking to quit.
Heated tobacco products emit less carcinogens than cigarettes
A recent study comparing the amount of carcinogens between regular cigarettes and heated tobacco products, found that the latter contain about 10- to 25-fold lower carcinogens than cigarettes. On the other hand the TGA claimed that the products would be of “no public health benefit”, had a high potential to cause harm, and were just a new way of delivering nicotine rather than a “quit smoking” product.
Philip Morris spokesman Simon Breheny said the decision was disappointing for Australia’s millions of smokers. “It puts Australia at odds with many other countries who have decided to regulate heated tobacco and smoke free alternatives,” he said. On the contrary, senior from Sydney University’s School of Public Health, Becky Freeman, said that this was the right decision. “The right decision was made,” she said. “They are not some miracle product that reduces smoking.”
The availability of HTPs in Japan, decreases smoking rates
Meanwhile, recent data from Japan, the world’s ninth largest cigarette market, has indicated that the introduction of HTPs has had a remarkable effect in decreasing local smoking rates. “The decline in smoking rates among adults in Japan is astoundingly impressive when you realize that this has only come about rapidly with the introduction of HTPs,” said Nancy Loucas, Executive Director of the Coalition of Asia-Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates (CAPHRA).
Read Further: ABC News