Australia’s publicly funded ‘vaping facts’ need investigation
“The vaping lies getting peddled in Australia are an outrageous misuse of public expenditure which should be directed towards improving Australia’s healthcare system,” says Nancy Loucas, Executive Co-ordinator of CAPHRA (Coalition of Asia Pacific Tobacco Harm Reduction Advocates).
Her comments follow the New South Wales Government ramping up its threats to law-abiding retailers about vaping products and continuing to stand by a controversial $300,000 joint ‘education campaign’ on vaping with the Department of Education.
The campaign’s centrepiece is a ‘Get the Facts’ – Vaping Toolkit’ aimed at teachers, parents, and teenage students. CAPHRA says despite Acting Chief Health Officer Dr Marianne Gale’s assurances, the site does not contain ‘evidence-based resources and educational material’ and should be pulled down while its many claims are independently verified.
“These supposed vaping facts are either completely exaggerated at best or are without any scientific basis at worst. The Australian public – young and old – need to have absolute confidence in any health claims made on a government site. Unfortunately, this campaign falls well short of the facts. Instead, it’s littered with barefaced lies,” says Ms Loucas.
In a statement that’s riled Tobacco Harm Reduction (THR) advocates throughout Asia Pacific, Dr Gale claimed: ‘There’s a perception out there that e-cigarettes are either not harmful at all or less harmful than cigarettes, and that is not the case.’
“We’ve got a situation where a chief Australian health official is actively telling the public that vaping is not less harmful than smoking. International research resolutely refutes that. She cannot produce one piece of evidence to back her claim, yet Australians continue to get served up such expensive yet worthless advice. It’s a total disgrace,” she says.
CAPHRA says if Australians want the truth, they should look across the Tasman to New Zealand. There nicotine vaping is accessible to adults via its 2020 regulations for retailers and manufacturers, with smokers desperate to quit cigarettes not forced to get a doctor’s prescription to nicotine vape as Australians must.
“Requiring a doctor’s prescription is failing Australia’s 2.3 million smokers, not to mention the 20,000 Australians who die from smoking-related illnesses every year. Australia’s overall smoking rate has barely moved in the past decade while New Zealand’s has halved, largely thanks to Kiwi smokers having decent access to a considerably less harmful alternative,” says Ms Loucas.
CAPHRA points to the New Zealand’s Ministry of Health ‘Vaping Facts’ website which headlines: ‘Vaping is less harmful than smoking’.
“New Zealand is playing it straight with the public and subsequently it is on track to achieve Smokefree 2025 – where five percent or fewer smoke. In contrast, Australia’s health leaders continue to ban retail access for adults while directing significant public resources into scaremongering about vaping.
“Australia’s medicalisation model is failing badly. Ongoing threats and lies about vaping only make Australia’s 10% smoking target near impossible to achieve anytime soon. They need a new tobacco eradication strategy as this one is clearly not working,” says Nancy Loucas.