Surprise, surprise – TGA rejects reason

Vaping with nicotine remains illegal in Australia.

To no-one’s surprise, the country’s secretive and suspected Therapeutic Goods Administration has “finally” rejected an application to legalise nicotine for use in safer alternatives to smoking [click here to see the full decision]. Adult consumers will not be allowed access to new nicotine products despite the mounting evidence from less backward nations that they are effective in helping smokers quit, save lives and improve public health.

Happy to side with the Big Pharma lobby – and incidentally to assist sales of conventional and deadly cigarettes – the TGA has refused to acknowledge any of the evidence submitted by hundreds of organisations and individuals during an 8-month “public consultation” following an application from the New Nicotine Alliance to remove nicotine (in very low concentration) from the Poisons Schedule for use in safer alternatives to smoking.

As a result, vaping with liquids that contain nicotine remains banned while nicotine in “tobacco prepared and packed for smoking” can continue to be retailed throughout Australia.

One globally renowned expert on harm reduction, who feared being named, called the consultation a sham “decided in advance by a small number – I can name them – of placemen whose careers depend on continuing to prop up the high toll of death and disease among smokers who cannot quit or who actually enjoy nicotine. The enemy is not nicotine but smoking: these alleged campaigners have rejected all international evidence in order to ensure they continue to receive their stipend from vested interests that promote suffering at the cost of public health.”

Terry Barnes, a former senior adviser at the federal health ministry, called the TGA’s verdict “a victory for fear of the new and disruptive”.

Colin Mendelsohn, a leading advocate of new nicotine products as a smoking cessation solution, said the TGA was ignoring the evidence and called the verdict “poor science and misguided, short-sighted policy.”

A significant number of MPs and senators across Australia are known to be outraged by the decision, the secretive process and the background to the verdict. Clearly, the TGA’s Draconian decision, together with the barmy ‘logic’ of its alleged reasoning, signals the start, rather than the end, of the battle to overturn regulations that prevent ordinary people from choosing to improve their own and others’ health and punish those who dare to make their own informed choice.

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