Electronic Nicotine Delivery Systems (ENDS), such as electronic cigarettes, are absent from the ACT Action Plan, ignoring the NDS Pillar of “Harm Reduction”. As ENDS deliver nicotine to satisfy a smoker’s cravings without many of the harmful chemicals found in tobacco smoke, they offer a significant opportunity for harm reduction among smokers.
In recent years, a wealth of evidence in support of the harm reduction benefits of ENDS has been published in studies and reports around the world. This evidence has not been given due consideration by Australian health authorities. Strong headway has been made in the UK and USA, where ENDS products containing nicotine are legal.
The reduction in smoking rates in these countries now exceed those in Australia, in part through access to safer alternatives to tobacco, including ENDS.
The UK Royal College of Physicians concluded that ENDS use is unlikely to exceed 5 per cent of the harm caused by smoking. A recent Public Health England report found the concern that e-cigarettes lead to tobacco smoking among young people is not supported by the evidence.
Australian adult smokers are very positive about the potential benefits of ENDS. Surveys indicate that:
- 82 per cent of Australian adult smokers agreed that it would be wrong for the Government to prevent or delay the introduction of less harmful alternatives to cigarettes for adult smokers;
- that three-quarters agreed that e-cigarettes represent a positive alternative to today’s cigarettes; and
- that 65 per cent would consider quitting smoking if the nicotine-laced liquids used in ENDS were legally available.
If most Australian smokers switched to vaping, over 500,000 lives would be saved from premature death.
For these reasons, the ACT Liberal Democrats suggest ENDS should be included in the Emerging Issues section of the Action Plan.
The ACT Liberal Democrats also believe that penalties in the ACT for possession of ENDS products containing nicotine should be abolished. Under the Medicines, Poisons and Therapeutic Goods Act 2008 (ACT), possession of such substances currently attracts a maximum penalty of 200 penalty units, imprisonment for two years, or both. Such penalties do not reflect a harm minimisation approach for smokers attempting to quit.
The ACT Liberal Democrats consider that the penalties should be immediately reduced to a nominal sum, and eventually eliminated
The official page of the Liberal Democratic Party in the Australian Capital Territory. Authorised by Guy Jakeman, Florey, ACT, 2615