Tasmanians are now required to get a prescription nicotine vaping and nicotine e-cigarette products from a doctor, and then fill their script at a pharmacy.
While it is a welcome development that the Therapeutic Goods Administration has recognised the potential benefits of these products as smoking cessation aids, the problem with these new rules is that in practice it will make it very difficult for Tasmanians to access them. According the TGA, there is not a single GP in Tasmania who is registered to prescribe these products. So vaping Tasmanians will need to seek a prescription through a telehealth appointment.
To make matters worse, the state government seem to be doing all they can to demonise these products and make them make it even harder to access them. Last week, Health Minister Jeremy Rockliff said that in order to stock these products pharmacies will have to apply for a $1200 per year tobacco licence, as well as abiding by the strict requirements of selling tobacco products.
I will hazard a guess that very few - if any - Tasmanian pharmacists will seek such a licence, which will mean that Tasmanians will be required to fill their scripts from interstate or overseas suppliers. It is difficult to see how this decision helps local small business.
Minister Rockliff is gaslighting Tasmanians when he seeks to convince us that the weight of evidence is against the benefits.
There is strong evidence that these products are both effective harm reduction and smoking cessation aids. This includes Public Health England who has found them to be 95 per cent less harmful than traditional cigarettes. In April this year, the highly respected Cochrane Review found that: "More people probably stop smoking for at least six months using nicotine e-cigarettes than using nicotine replacement therapy [four studies,1924 people], or nicotine-free e-cigarettes (five studies, 1447 people). For every 100 people using nicotine e-cigarettes to stop smoking, nine to 14 might stop, compared with only six of 100 people using nicotine-replacement therapy, seven of 100 using nicotine-free e-cigarettes, or four of 100 people having no support or behavioural support only".
With Tasmania continuing to have the second highest smoking rate in Australia at 17.6 per cent, it beggars' belief that the state government continues to ignore this evidence.
Or are we supposed to believe that the rest of the world have got it wrong? Everyone can see the lunacy. You can buy cigarettes at the supermarket, but you will need a prescription to use the less harmful alternative.
It seems the position of the government is that they are ideology against vapes and e-cigarettes because cigarette companies make them. This is akin to banning low-alcohol beer because beer companies make it.
The government has rightly and assiduously followed COVID science. It's time they did the same thing with nicotine vaping.
- Robert Mallett, Tasmanian Small Business Council executive officer