Medical Industry Braces For Vape Addiction As First Stage Of Ban Begins


0
Medical Industry Braces For Vape Addiction As First Stage Of Ban Begins
Medical Industry Braces For Vape Addiction As First Stage Of Ban Begins

Treating vape addiction will be a “new phenomenon” for the medical industry as it braces for the first stage of the federal government’s world-leading reforms to limit usage of the device to people with a prescription.

From New Year’s Day, the importation of all disposable vapes with or without nicotine will be banned as part of a crackdown to stop a thriving black market that imports millions of flavoured disposable vapes from China.

From New Year’s Day, the importation of all disposable vapes with or without nicotine will be banned.Credit: Marija Ercegovac

Parallel to the government’s ban on disposable vapes, all doctors and nurses will have the power to prescribe vapes as a method to help patients recover from addiction.

Originally, only doctors with additional training and certification were able to prescribe vapes which was widely seen as ineffectual because only 5 per cent of practitioners took up the option.

The medical industry has broadly supported the government’s reforms, but chair of the expert advisory group for the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners Nicholas Zwar expected the process to place some strain on doctors.

“It will be a challenge because that group of people … don’t come to doctors all that frequently because they’re generally healthy. So it will be a bit of a new phenomenon or something that people haven’t had a lot of experience with,” he said.

The changes are the first stage of Health Minister Mark Butler’s suite of reforms to roll out over 2024, including from March a ban on people importing their own vaping products and on the import of all non-therapeutic vapes. Any importers of vapes must obtain a permit from the federal government and must notify the Therapeutic Goods Administration to abide by a set of conditions.

The conditions will include plain pharmaceutical packaging, no flavourings and have a prescribed level of nicotine in them.

Young people are the predominant consumers of vapes, as data collected by the Cancer Council in March shows 20 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds and 14 per cent of 14- to 17-year-olds were current vapers.

GPs have been given interim guidance from groups including the RACGP and Australian Medical Association, which Zwar said would be built on as the Department of Health and TGA are planning education for prescribers of vapes in the early new year.

“[GPs] can learn more about these changes and their options in terms of how they respond when people come in the door,” Zwar said.

“There’s so little scientific evidence on how to best support people to stop nicotine vaping because there just really hasn’t been many studies and very little published, so we’re committing to rely on what’s worked for smoking cessation over the years.”

AMA president Steve Robson said it was recognised there were enormous pressures on GPs but said he believed there was “broad support” across the industry for the government’s reforms.

Quit Victoria and NSW Quitline already have services available to support vapers to quit, but staff are preparing for an increased demand over the next year.

“We are anticipating that there’ll be a lot more people who will be seeking support, particularly young people,” director of Quit Victoria Rachael Andersen said.

“Over the course of the year we do anticipate, and we are preparing for, a rise in uptake for services to support people to quit.”

Concerns have previously been raised on the vape ban fuelling the black market, as the Australian Border Force has been given an extra $25 million in funding to regulate the new ban.

“Combatting the imports of vaping products is a complex problem, as vapes vary to other prohibited imports that we already seize at the border, such as illicit tobacco,” an ABF spokesperson said.

“The reforms will make it easier to detect unlawful vaping products at the border, enable enhanced enforcement and make it harder to evade detection.”

The government also intends to introduce legislation in the new year to prohibit domestic manufacturing and supply of vapes as a way to block any loopholes.

“Without addressing the issue of enforcement, any further vaping regulations will not be worth the paper they are written on.”

Anne Ruston, shadow health spokeswoman

“Currently this is a market largely supplied from overseas through imports. We’re determined that if we stopped those imports at the border, we don’t see a squeezed balloon effect through a domestic manufacturing industry sprouting up as well,” Butler said at a press conference on November 28.

Opposition health spokeswoman Anne Ruston agreed that no one wanted to see people becoming addicted to vaping, but cast doubt on whether these reforms would be effective.

“Australians need to know the details on how the government will ensure the incoming ban is enforced because right now, it is illegal to buy a nicotine vape without a prescription, yet kids can still access flavoured vapes, in coloured packaging, at their corner store,” she said.

“Without addressing the issue of enforcement, any further vaping regulations will not be worth the paper they are written on.”

Loading

Despite opposition doubt, state and territory governments have declared their support to work with the federal reforms. NSW Health said it was “committed to ongoing collaboration with Commonwealth government agencies, other jurisdictions, and relevant stakeholders to address the illegal sale of vapes”.

A Victorian government spokesperson said the state has “long been a leader in the regulation of tobacco and vaping” and looked toward to working with the Commonwealth to “implement some of the strictest vaping restrictions in the world to keep Victorians safer”.

Most Viewed in Politics

Loading


Like it? Share with your friends!

0

0 Comments

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *