Leading regional consumer group factasia.org has welcomed the New South Wales government’s new law banning under-18s from buying and using e-cigarettes, which came into force September 1.
The consumer choice advocacy is calling for governments throughout Australia to take further sensible action to regulate these products, which experts have described as “at least 95 percent safer than smoking.” Recommended measures include standards of manufacture of the e-cigarettes themselves, point-of-sale restrictions and regulations governing the ingredients of e-cigarette solutions. Such measures would safeguard both vapers and non-users.
factasia.org says e-cigarettes, which do not burn tobacco and therefore do not produce smoke, tar and the potentially dangerous particulates found with cigarettes, offer a path away from smoking for adults. “The NSW government has sensibly restricted e-cigarettes to adult users. The next step is to introduce quality standards for both the products and the ingredients so users of e-cigarettes can enjoy the protection of the law just like consumers of other products,” said John Boley, co-founder of the Hong Kong-based advocacy that promotes consumer choice in this sector throughout Asia-Pacific.
Mr Boley is visiting Australia to talk to all sides in the e-cigarette debate in the light of a number of recent reports from respected international public health organisations and harm-reduction experts that unanimously find ‘vaping’, properly regulated, to be literally a life-saver for smokers unable or unwilling to completely quit their habit.
Speaking in Sydney, John said: “Experts all over the world, from the UK to New Zealand, are calling for governments to legalise and regulate e-cigarettes for adults as a means of drastically reducing death and disease associated with smoking. All the available evidence globally shows e-cigarettes are a gateway away from smoking and there is negligible use of them by former non-smokers. That includes teenagers, but factasia believes e-cigarettes, like many other consumer products, should be a choice for adults.”
However, he said, many of the recent reports have highlighted the confusion over the issue of e-cigarettes among consumers and legislators alike.
At the end of August, Dr Derek Yach, a top tobacco-control expert and former cabinet director at the World Health Organization, called for governments to “end the war on e-cigarettes and view them as the smoking cessation aid that they are.” But he added there was a pressing need for a “cultural change” that would end the “scary stories” that regularly distort the public’s view of less harmful products such as e-cigarettes.
“The impact of these distorted media stories has led many smokers who had moved to e-cigarettes to move back to regular cigarettes,” said Dr Yach in an article written for the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Global Health Now.
factasia’s John Boley welcomed Dr Yach’s “pragmatic proposals. His latest call to regulators and governments echoes his other recent comments and those of leading public health professionals throughout the world who are determined to convince recalcitrant governments that reducing harm is good public health policy.”