TGA: Smokers Should Drop Dead

As expected, the Therapeutic Goods Administration has rejected an application to legalise nicotine for use in e-cigarettes (personal vaporisers).

In an interim decision, TGA said it would recommend retaining the present scheduling of nicotine for the purpose, despite its availability in other products – not only NRT gums, but notably cigarettes themselves. A two-week window is available to individuals and organisations that made submissions to a public consultation last August, in order to try again to reverse what is a defeat for civil liberty, common sense and public health.

The TGA received more than 70 submissions, of which three-quarters were in favour of de-restriction to allow citizens of Australia to choose for themselves to vape and reduce or give up smoking without having to go 'cold turkey', which most smokers find near-impossible. Most submissions argued the case based on science, supported by evidence of the effectiveness of personal vaporisers and other new nicotine products in the UK and Canada, and their success in Europe as a means of getting people away from the major harm of smoking.

But the TGA trotted out the usual tired arguments against progression, claiming without foundation that “most people who use electronic cigarettes do not quit smoking conventional tobacco products, resulting in dual-use” and that there was a “possibility that smoking may once again become socially acceptable”.

Both claims, among several others TGA cited in its summary, have been denied by harm reduction experts, doctors and scientists across the developed world. ATA questions the validity of the TGA's verdict both on rational grounds – it is plainly absurd to claim that NOT smoking would renormalise smoking – and in the name of consumers who deserve the right to choose for themselves to switch to far less harmful products containing nicotine if they want to preserve their long-term health. That should be the aim of public health bodies – who appear in Australia to instead be bent on doing the dirty work of cigarette manufacturers for them.

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