Peak Health Bodies Join Government To Fight Vaping

Department of Health

For the first time, the nation’s frontline health bodies have come together in support of the Government’s vaping reforms to prevent the sale, supply, manufacture and commercial possession of non-therapeutic vapes. The Australian Medical Association (AMA), the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners (RACGP), and the Pharmacy Guild of Australia are backing the Albanese Government’s world-leading legislation to protect children, young people and all Australians from the harms of vaping and are urging all Parliamentarians to support the legislation currently before the Australian Parliament.

This legislation will assign vapes as a therapeutic goods available via prescription to support people to quit smoking, and not as a tool used by Big Tobacco to hook a new generation on nicotine.

The united stand comes as alarming vaping statistics emerge across Australia. One in 6 high school students, and 1 in 4 young Australians aged between 18 and 24 are vaping. Vapes have become the number one behavioural issue in many schools. Many vape shops are intentionally opened within walking distance of schools.

Young vapers who have never smoked are also more likely to take up tobacco smoking compared to young people who have never vaped, posing a significant risk to Australia’s success in tobacco control.

The Government, Health Ministers around the country – and now the nation’s frontline health professionals – will not stand by and let this continue.

Doctors, nurses, pharmacists and Quitline counsellors have key roles in the fight against smoking and vaping, and in empowering and supporting people to quit.

These professionals can provide advice to patients about the range of options available to quit, including behavioural strategies, nicotine replacement therapies such as nicotine patches and other ‘first line’ medicines subsidised on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.

These reforms also ensure that those with a need to access therapeutic vapes can continue to, where clinically appropriate.

Since 1 January 2024, medical and nurse practitioners can lawfully supply therapeutic vapes where clinically appropriate for smoking cessation and the management of nicotine dependence. Arrangements to support the prescribing of these products has also been streamlined.

The Government is investing in more resources and services to support smoking and vaping cessation. This includes more support for consumers and updated clinical guidance and training for support GPs, pharmacists and other health professionals.

Ensuring that vapes are only accessed under the supervision of a health professional ensure users can receive trusted information on the risks associated with their use alongside any other personalised health advice.

The right person to provide that health advice is a doctor, nurse or pharmacist, and not a convenience store worker across the road from a school with a vested interest in profits.

Quotes attributable to Minister Butler:

“The fight against youth vaping steps up every day – and I’m reassured that the nation’s peak frontline health professions have joined with the Albanese Government in our world-leading stand against this insidious product peddled by Big Tobacco and its exploitative mates.

“Doctors see first-hand the health impacts of nicotine addiction every day – the risks, the devastating effects on kids, their parents, their families. Therapeutic vapes may play a role in supporting people to quit smoking or manage nicotine addiction, and have important obligations when prescribing these goods- as do other health professionals, such as nurse practitioners,

“And pharmacists, who are also very much on the frontline, have a key role in dispensing therapeutic vapes where clinically appropriate.

“Labor has long been a world leader in tobacco control – and we will continue to lead Australia’s charge against vaping.

“This is a fight – an unrelenting fight – on behalf of our kids and we will not stop until we have won.

“We will not allow a new generation to get hooked on nicotine.”

Quotes attributable to AMA President, Steve Robson:

“As more time passes, further evidence comes to light about the dangers of vaping, which is a ticking time bomb, threatening the health of future generations of Australians.

“Let’s be clear – children and young adults use vapes as their first nicotine-based product. They are not trying to quit, as they’ve never smoked before.

“Nicotine is highly addictive, and there is strong evidence to show young people who vape are three times more likely to take up smoking. The AMA is urging urge all federal MPs and Senators to support this important legislation.”

Quotes attributable to Pharmacy Guild of Australia National President, Professor Trent Twomey:

“Community Pharmacies welcome this strategic alliance of frontline health professionals to prevent children from accessing vapes.

“Community Pharmacies continue to support providing evidence-based smoking-cessation and nicotine-dependence treatments.

“Individuals are more likely to quit, and quit for good, when supported and counselled by health professionals like Pharmacists, Doctors and Nurses.

“Together, frontline health professionals can deliver the interventions that will stop us losing a new generation to nicotine dependence”.

Quotes attributable to RACGP President, Nicole Higgins:

“Vaping is not a harmless alternative to smoking, and many young people are finding it very difficult to stop once they start. The withdrawal effects, including anxiety and trouble eating and sleeping, can be a confronting experience.

“Australia has done a tremendous amount to reduce smoking rates across the country, but the job is not done. Vaping is marketed to our young people, and we must act decisively now, or we will have another generation of nicotine users.

“All GPs can now prescribe nicotine vapes for therapeutic purposes as a second-line smoking cessation measure and I encourage anyone trying to quit nicotine products to book a consult with their GP. We can help you with a range of options including nicotine replacement therapy, behavioural support, managing withdrawal symptoms and cravings, as well as prescribing medicines to help you quit.

“My message to everyone, including young people, is straightforward – don’t start vaping, as you may not be able to stop. Businesses selling vapes, including Big Tobacco companies, are not doing so as a generous public health measure, they are out to lure in more customers and make more money. Put your health and wellbeing first and encourage people in your life to do so the same.”

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